Heparin: an old drug with a new paradigm

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Science  02 Nov 1979:
Vol. 206, Issue 4418, pp. 528-533
DOI: 10.1126/science.386509


Recent studies have shown that heparin is a biochemical representative of a distinct class of compounds known as linear anionic polyelectrolytes. Members of this class are mixtures of individual highly negatively charged chains that show a wide spectrum of specific reactions with biologically active proteins. Upon administration, heparin chains enter a cellular pool and effectively prevent thrombosis by increasing the electronegative potential of the vessel wall. Anticoagulant activity is an unusual feature of a few heparin chains and appears to play a minor role in many clinical uses and in physiological and pathological responses.