Contaminated heparin was associated with adverse reactions by activating the contact system. Chemically oversulfated/modified glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) consisting of heparan sulfate, dermatan sulfate, and chondroitin sulfate have been identified as heparin contaminants. Current studies demonstrated that each component of oversulfated GAGs was comparable with oversulfated chondroitin sulfate in activating the contact system. By testing a series of unrelated negatively charged compounds, we found that the contact system recognized negative charges rather than specific chemical structures. We further tested how oversulfated GAGs and contaminated heparins affect different cell signaling pathways. Our data showed that chemically oversulfated GAGs and contaminated heparin had higher activity than the parent compounds and authentic heparin, indicative of sulfation-dominant and GAG sequence-dependent activities in BaF cell-based models of fibroblast growth factor/fibroblast growth factor receptor, glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor/c-Ret, and hepatocyte growth factor/c-Met signaling. In summary, these data indicate that contaminated heparins intended for blood anticoagulation not only activated the contact system but also modified different GAG-dependent cell signaling pathways.
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