Alternative Names: Hyaluronan, hyaluronate.
The average 70-kg man has roughly 15gm of Hyaluronic Acid in his body, one-third of which is replaced every day.
Function; Why it is Recommended
Hyaluronic acid is one of the chief components of the extracellular matrix, contributes significantly to cell proliferation and migration, and may also be involved in the progression of some malignant tumors
. It is an important component of articular cartilage
, where it is present as a coat around each cell.
Hyaluronic acid is also a major component of skin, where it is involved in tissue repair. When skin is excessively exposed to UVB rays, it becomes inflamed
(sunburn) and the cells in the dermis stop producing as much hyaluronic acid, and increase the rate of its degradation. The degradation products accumulate in the skin after UV exposure.
Hyaluronan is naturally found in many tissues of the body, such as skin, cartilage
, and the vitreous humor. It is therefore well suited to biomedical applications targeting these tissues. The first hyaluronan biomedical product, Healon, was developed in the 1970s and 1980s by Pharmacia, and is approved for use in eye surgery (i.e., corneal transplantation, cataract
surgery and surgery to repair retinal
detachment). Other biomedical companies also produce brands of hyaluronan for ophthalmic surgery.
Hyaluronan may also be used postoperatively to induce tissue healing, notably after cataract surgery.
In some cancers, hyaluronan levels correlate well with malignancy and poor prognosis. Hyaluronan is thus often used as a tumor
marker for prostate
and breast cancer. It may also be used to monitor the progression of the disease.
Hyaluronan is a common ingredient in skin care products. In 2003 the FDA approved hyaluronan injections for filling soft tissue defects such as facial wrinkles. Restylane is a common trade name for the product. Hyaluronan injections temporarily smooth wrinkles by adding volume under the skin, with effects typically lasting for six months. People who have been on any blood medication with in the last five years should not inject this drug until the five year span is over. It is alleged that this drug is not suitable for use in elderly patients because it can cause memory loss, although there is no evidence in the literature of any negative cognitive effects attributable to hyaluronic acid injections.