Heparin-derived supersulfated disaccharide inhibits allergic airway responses in sheep

Tahir Ahmed, Gregory Smith, William M. Abraham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The tetrasaccharide sequence of heparin oligosaccharides is the minimum chain length possessing anti-allergic activity, as the disaccharide fraction is inactive. Since sulfation pattern can modify the biological actions of heparin, we hypothesized that "supersulfation" of the inactive heparin disaccharide could confer anti-allergic activity to this molecule. To test this, we produced a supersulfated heparin disaccharide (Hep-SSD) and evaluated its anti-allergic activity in sheep with documented antigen-induced early and late airway responses (EAR and LAR) and airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR). Porcine intestinal heparin was depolymerized with nitrous acid, the disaccharide fraction separated by size exclusion chromatography, and then treated with pyridine-sulfur trioxide complex to yield Hep-SSD. Its chemical structure [IdoU2',3',4'S (1→4) AMan1,3,6S] was confirmed by HPLC, Mass Spectrometry and NMR analysis. Inhaled doses of 5 mg, 10 mg and 20 mg Hep-SSD produced inhibition of EAR (8%, 35% and 35%), LAR (50%, 80%, and 77%) and AHR (67%, 100% and 75%), respectively. A single oral dose of 2 mg/kg Hep-SSD given 90 min before challenge significantly inhibited EAR, LAR and AHR, but 1 mg/kg was ineffective. Multi dose oral treatment with Hep-SSD had a cumulative effect, as a once daily dose of 2 mg/kg for 3 days (last dose, 16 h before antigen) inhibited EAR, LAR and AHR by 30%, 75% and 74%, respectively. Finally, the oral activity of Hep-SSD could be enhanced 4 fold by formulating it with Carbopol®934P, in an enteric coated capsule. These data demonstrate that "supersulfation" can confer biological activity to the inactive heparin disaccharide. Both inhaled and oral Hep-SSD demonstrate significant anti-allergic activity and, therefore, may have therapeutic potential.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-86
Number of pages10
JournalPulmonary Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2014


  • Heparin oligosaccharides
  • Oral actvity
  • Sheep asthma model
  • Sulfation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Biochemistry, medical


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