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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

A disaccharide that inhibits tumor necrosis factor alpha is formed from the extracellular matrix by the enzyme heparanase.

The activation of T cells by antigens or mitogens leads to the secretion of cytokines and enzymes that shape the inflammatory response. Among these molecular mediators of inflammation is a heparanase enzyme that degrades the heparan sulfate scaffold of the extracellular matrix ( ECM). Activated T cells use heparanase to penetrate the ECM and gain access to the tissues. We now report that among the breakdown products of the ECM generated by heparanase is a trisulfated disaccharide that can inhibit delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) in mice. This inhibition of T-cell mediated inflammation in vivo was associated with an inhibitory effect of the disaccharide on the production of biologically active tumor necrosis factor alpha ( TNF-alpha) by activated T cells in vitro; the trisulfated disaccharide did not affect T-cell viability or responsiveness generally. Both the in vivo and in vitro effects of the disaccharide manifested a bell-shaped dose-response curve. The inhibitory effects of the trisulfated disaccharide were lost if the sulfate groups were removed. Thus, the disaccharide, which may be a natural product of inflammation, can regulate the functional nature of the response by the T cell to activation. Such a feedback control mechanism could enable the T cell to assess the extent of tissue degradation and adjust its behavior accordingly.[1]


  1. A disaccharide that inhibits tumor necrosis factor alpha is formed from the extracellular matrix by the enzyme heparanase. Lider, O., Cahalon, L., Gilat, D., Hershkoviz, R., Siegel, D., Margalit, R., Shoseyov, O., Cohen, I.R. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (1995) [Pubmed]
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