The repairing polysaccharide (Dermatan sulfate)-Erakina

Dermatan sulfate is a mucopolysaccharide compound that is made up of monomeric units that are arranged linearly.

What is dermatan sulfate?

Dermatan sulfate is classified as a glycosaminoglycan, although it was formerly classified as a mucopolysaccharide. This polysaccharide is made up of a number of repeating units that are arranged linearly to form a long carbohydrate chain. The monomeric units of dermatan sulfate consist of the following-

  • N-acetyl galactosamine 
  • Iduronic acid 
  • At certain regular intervals, these repeating monomeric units are sulfated i.e., there is the presence of sulfate bonds, hence, the name “dermatan sulfate” was given to this compound.
Dermatan sulfate
Chemical structure of Dermatan sulfate.


Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) or mucopolysaccharides are highly polar compounds that possess the tendency to attract water and are, hence, present in the body as shock absorbers or lubricating agents. These compounds are usually composed of the following two components-

  • An amino sugar 
  • A uronic sugar

All glycosaminoglycans are composed of disaccharide units that are present in a repeating fashion. An exception to this arrangement is keratan which consists of amino sugar and galactose in the place of a uronic sugar.

Sulfated glycosaminoglycans

Various glycosaminoglycans are found in the human body.

Where is dermatan sulfate found?

Dermatan sulfate is present throughout the human body and is present in abundance, specifically in the skin. Apart from the skin, it is also present in the following regions of the human body-

  • Blood vessels
  • Valves of the heart 
  • Tendons 
  • Lungs 
  • The mucosal layer of the intestines.
Glycosaminoglycan chains in tendons
SEM image of dermatan sulfate in the tendons.

Functions of dermatan sulfate

Dermatan sulfate has been classified as a key component of body tissues. That is also why the use of this compound is employed for the purpose of cosmetic surgeries. Some of the primary functions of this glycosaminoglycan are as follows-

  • Repairing of wounds.
  • Regulation of coagulation of blood.
  • Cell differentiation

Dermatan Sulfate Epimerase 1-Deficient Mice Have Reduced Content and Changed Distribution of Iduronic Acids                                                                                     Dermatan Sulfate Epimerase 1-Deficient

                                                                                 Mice Have Reduced Content and Changed Distribution of Iduronic Acids

  • Migration and morphogenesis of cells. Morphogenesis is the property of cells and tissues to develop a certain shape or structure. This biological process usually takes place during embryonic development. An example of pathological morphogenesis of body tissues is the development of cancer in the body.

Dermatan sulfate is thought to be a highly active biomolecule with a significant amount of clinical applications. These clinical applications can be formulated in the following areas-

  • Antiviral drug therapy
  • Anticancer therapy 
  • Regenerative medicine
  • Antiparasitic drug therapy


Lysosomic enzymes are required for the degradation of glycosaminoglycan compounds that make up the bones, skin, cartilage and tissues of the body, into simpler molecules. When these lysosomic enzymes malfunction, it results in the build-up of glycosaminoglycan molecules within the body leading to physical deformities and defects in an individual’s normal physical abilities. This condition can also affect the functioning of organs and organ systems. 

The set of metabolic disorders that are caused due to the absence or malfunctioning of these lysosomic enzymes is called mucopolysaccharidoses. Some of the most noticeable symptoms of these disorders are as follows-

  • Impaired cognitive functioning and behavioural development.
  • Coarse facial features. 
  • Inhibited growth leads to disproportionate limbs and short stature; dwarfism. 
  • Excessive growth of body hair.
  • Enlarged liver or spleen.
  • The cornea of the eye is usually cloudy in appearance. 
  • Affected individuals may experience loss of hearing and sight.
  • Occurrence of respiratory infections.
  • Affected individuals might suffer from sleep apnea which is a sleep disorder that is characterised by periods of shallow, uneven breathing while asleep.


Dermatan sulfate is a polysaccharide that is composed of two units, amino sugar and uronic sugar. This compound has a linear chain structure and is found in most of the tissues of the body, specifically the skin, bones and cartilage. This compound is responsible for tissue regenerative abilities of the body, repairment of wounds and regulation of blood clotting.

The inability of the body to reduce this compound into simpler molecules can lead to the occurrence of certain metabolic disorders known as mucopolysaccharidoses. The main function of dermatan sulfate is to act as a lubricating agent in the body that absorbs shocks.

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By:- Deepika Thilakan

By:- Deepika Thilakan

Date:- 23/06/2022

Tags: animals, birds, life science

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