Glycoconjugate Journal

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 87–94 | Cite as

Glycosaminoglycans from fish swim bladder: isolation, structural characterization and bioactive potential

  • Yongxi Pan
  • Peipei Wang
  • Fuming Zhang
  • Yanlei Yu
  • Xing Zhang
  • Lei Lin
  • Robert J. Linhardt
Original Article


The swim bladder of fish is an internal gas-filled organ that allows fish to control their buoyancy and swimming depth. Fish maws (the dried swim bladders of fish) have been used over many centuries as traditional medicines, tonics and a luxurious gourmet food in China and Southeast Asia. Little is known about the structural information of polysaccharides comprising this important functional material of fish tissue. In the present study, the total glycosaminoglycan (GAG) from fish maw was characterized. Two GAGs were identified, chondroitin sulfate (CS, having a molecular weight of 18–40 kDa) and heparan sulfate (HS), corresponding to 95% and 5% of the total GAG, respectively. Chondroitinase digestion showed that the major CS GAG was composed of ΔUA-1 → 3-GalNAc4S (59.7%), ΔUA-1 → 3-GalNAc4,6S (36.5%), ΔUA-1 → 3-GalNAc6S (2.2%) and ΔUA-1 → 3-GalNAc (1.6%) disaccharide units. 1H–NMR analysis and degradation with specific chondroitinases, both CS-type A/C and CS-type B were present in a ratio of 1.4:1. Analysis using surface plasmon resonance showed that fibroblast growth factor (FGF)-2 bound to the CS fraction (KD = 136 nM). These results suggest that this CS may be involved in FGF-signal pathway, mediating tissue repair, regeneration and wound healing. The CS, as the major GAG in fish maw, may have potential pharmacological activity in accelerating wound healing.


Glycosaminoglycans Fish maw Compositional analysis Chondroitin sulfate Heparan sulfate Disaccharides FGF-2 







chondroitin sulfate


4-deoxy-β-L-threo-hex-4-enopyranosiduronic acid


1,9-dimethylmethylene blue


electrospray ionization;


fibroblast growth factor






glucuronic acid




gel permeation chromatography


high performance liquid chromatography


heparan sulfate


iduronic acid


keratan sulfate


mass spectrometry


molecular weight cut-off


nuclear magnetic resonance


polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis


resonance units




size exclusion chromatography


surface plasmon resonance


United States Pharmacopeia



This work was supported by National Institutes of Health Grants HL125371, GM38060, HL096972, HL062244 and HL136271.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary StudiesRensselaer Polytechnic InstituteTroyUSA
  2. 2.Glycochemistry and Glycobiology Lab, Shanghai Institute of Materia MedicaChinese Academy of SciencesShanghaiChina
  3. 3.Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary StudiesRensselaer Polytechnic InstituteTroyUSA
  4. 4.Departments of Biology, Biomedical Engineering, Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary StudiesRensselaer Polytechnic InstituteTroyUSA

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