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A new role of heparin: A polysaccharide for gastrointestinal diseases

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image of Inflammopharmacology

Heparin is a highly sulfated glycosaminoglycan found in secretory granules of mast cells. It is known for its anticoagulant activity and used for various coagulation disorders and vascular problems. Recently, more novel actions other than the anticoagulant function have been identified. It was reported to promote gastric ulcer healing and inhibit inflammation in the colon. These actions were shown to be mediated through the increase of expressions and functions of various growth factors, such as basic fibroblast growth factor, epidermal growth factor and insulin-like growth factor. Heparin also stimulated the gastric mucus synthesis via activation of nitric oxide synthase. This article summarizes these actions and reports the potential therapeutic application of heparin on gastric ulcer and ulcerative colitis both in animals and humans.


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