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any of the carbohydrates containing amino sugars occurring in proteoglycans, e.g., hyaluronic acid or chondroitin sulfate.


General term for a protein-polysaccharide complex obtained from proteoglycans and containing as much as 95% polysaccharide; mucopolysaccharides include the blood group substances. A more modern term is glycosaminoglycan, because all of the known six classes contain major amounts of d-glucosamine and d-galactosamine.


/gly·cos·ami·no·gly·can/ (gli″kōs-ah-me″no-gli´kan) any of a group of high molecular weight linear polysaccharides with various disaccharide repeating units and usually occurring in proteoglycans, including the chondroitin sulfates, dermatan sulfates, heparan sulfate and heparin, keratan sulfates, and hyaluronic acid. Abbreviated GAG.


n. Abbr. GAG
Any of a group of unbranched polysaccharides with high molecular weight that contain amino sugars and often are attached to or form complexes with proteins. Also called mucopolysaccharide.


A complex macromolecule considered to be the 'glue' of the cornea. It is responsible for providing the plasticity and structural support needed for successful corneal function. Along with other molecules, it comprises the solid portion of the cornea (,22%, the remainder being water). The distribution and arrangement of glycosaminoglycans are responsible for corneal transparency and thickness.



any of the carbohydrates containing amino sugars occurring in proteoglycans, e.g. hyaluronic acid or chondroitin sulfate. These substances are secreted in very much greater quantities in the urine of achondroplastic dwarf calves than in other urines. This suggests that the disease is an inherited defect of metabolism similar to the mucopolysaccharidoses of humans. See also glycogenosis.

glycosaminoglycan polysulfate
an antiarthritic compound which affects synovial membrane activity, increasing viscosity of synovial fluid.

Patient discussion about glycosaminoglycan

Q. Does GAG really help? My mother suffers from osteoarthritis, and after taking a lot of pain-killers someone offered us to try glycosaminoglycans. Does it really help? It’s quite expensive….

A. As far as I know it wasn’t proved in well-controlled trials to benefit the patients over placebo, so if it’s a consideration for you, I’m not sure it justifies the price. However, I’m only a lay-man, so consulting a professional (i.e. a doctor) is better.

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