Non-aggregating dermatan sulphate proteoglycans can be extracted from both fetal and adult human articular cartilage. The dermatan sulphate proteoglycans appear to be smaller in the adult, this presumably being due to shorter glycosaminoglycan chains, and these chains contain a greater proportion of their uronic acid residues as iduronate. Both the adult and fetal dermatan sulphate proteoglycans contain a greater amount of 4-sulphation than 6-sulphation of the N-acetylgalactosamine residues, in contrast with the aggregating proteoglycans, which always show more 6-sulphation on their chondroitin sulphate chains. In the fetus the major dermatan sulphate proteoglycan to be synthesized is DS-PGI, though DS-PGII is synthesized in reasonable amounts. In the adult, however, DS-PGI synthesis is barely detectable relative to DS-PGII, which is still synthesized in substantial amounts. Purification of the dermatan sulphate proteoglycans from adult cartilage is hampered by the presence of degradation products derived from the large aggregating proteoglycans, which possess similar charge, size and density properties, but which can be distinguished by their ability to interact with hyaluronic acid.

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