ACAN (Aggrecan) is a high molecular weight proteoglycan that plays a critical role in cartilage structure and the function of joints, providing intervertebral disc and cartilage with the ability to resist compressive loads. Aggrecan is the major structural proteoglycan in the extracellular matrix of the intervertebral disc. It is large, possessing numerous glycosaminoglycan chains and the ability to form aggregates in association with hyaluronan. The negatively charged glycosaminoglycan side chains in aggrecan in the nucleus pulposus of the intervertebral discs can bind electrostatically to polar water molecules, which are crucial for maintaining the well-hydrated state that enables the discs to undergo reversible deformation under compressive loading. aggrecan plays a central role in the function and degeneration of the intervertebral disc, which may suggest potential aggrecan-based therapies for disc regeneration.
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