What molecule am I?
According to the Merck Index, hyaluronic acid (HA; sometimes called hyaluronan) is “a natural high-viscosity mucopolysaccharide”. As shown in the images, it consists of repeating two-glucoside units. The molar mass of the natural material is between 106 and 107 g/cm3.
In the human body, highly viscous HA and its sodium salt are a major constituent of synovial fluid; they are also found in the vitreous humor and the umbilical cord. Its name is derived from hyalos, the Greek word for vitreous.
In 1934, Karl Meyer and John W. Palmer at Columbia University (New York) isolated HA from the vitreous humor of cattle eyes and measured many of its properties. Twenty years later, Meyer and Bernard Weissman described the structure of HA taken from umbilical cords.
HA-containing synovial fluid is a natural lubricant for the soft tissues that support natural or artificial joints such as hips and knees, helping them to function smoothly. HA scavenges radicals generated by inflammation. It is sometimes injected into arthritic joints to ease pain and assist movement.
HA is approved for use in some eye surgeries, but there is no evidence of its effectiveness in cosmetic anti-aging products. It can be used, however, as a dermal filler in the face to reduce wrinkles and provide fullness.
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