Jack Losso and Jose Daniel Estrada-Andino
Hyaluronic acid was first obtained from the combs of roosters to use in cosmetics and medical treatments. Because of supply and demand, other sources, including microbial fermentations, were developed to obtain hyaluronic acid. LSU AgCenter researchers have identified for the first time the presence of high levels of hyaluronic acid in different body parts of the alligator (Alligator Mississipiensis). The levels are so high that alligators can be considered as a reservoir of hyaluronic acid. AgCenter researchers analyzed the alligator back strap, eye, feet and carcass for hyaluronic content. The back strap was the animal part with the highest levels, followed by the feet and eyeball. These results are equivalent to about 0.73 tons per year in Louisiana.
Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder with a median survival age of 40.7 years. Chronic airway inflammation and dehydration are critical features of cystic fibrosis. Hyaluronic acid has a plethora of size and structure-dependent biological functions including hydration and regulation of inflammation.
AgCenter studies indicate that hyaluronic acid has the potential to regulate the expression of genes that may aid in recovering the protease/anti-protease balance, reducing inflammation, and regulating airway surface liquid osmotic homeostasis. Alligator hyaluronic acid may aid in the treatment of other inflammatory conditions, such as wound healing and arthritis in humans and animals.
Hyaluronic acid from alligators may one day find its applications in cosmetics. Work is in progress to unravel the potentials of crocodilian hyaluronic acid.
Jack Losso is a professor in the School of Nutrition and Food Sciences, and Jose Daniel Estrada-Andino is a senior research scientist at General Mills, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
(This article appears in the fall 2019 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture