oligosaccharide (rus. олигосахарид) — a carbohydrate whose molecules are built from several monosaccharide residues (2 to 10-20) linked by glycoside bonds.


Depending on the degree of polymerisation, oligosaccharides are classified into disaccharides (bioses), trisaccharides (trioses), tetrasaccharides (tetroses), etc.

Oligosaccharides may consist of residues of one monosaccharide (homooligosaccharides) or different monosaccharides (heterooligosaccharides). Oligosaccharides are produced primarily in a reaction of partial (chemical or enzymatic) degradation of natural polysaccharides, glycolipids and glycoproteins. There are also several groups of free natural oligosaccharides. For example, the saccharose group is contained in plants, where the substance functions as an easy-to-mobilize energy reserve; oligosaccharides of the lactose group are contained in the milk of mammals.

The most commonly used oligosaccharide is saccharose, which is one of the leading individual organic compounds in terms of production volume. Lactose and cyclodextrins used in the pharmaceutical industry are produced in small amounts. Oligosaccharides may be widely used in nanobiotechnologies. So, cyclodextrins form nanoscale inclusion complexes with drugs, resulting in the alteration of the physico-chemical and pharmacological properties of such drugs. Thus, cyclodextrins may be used as nanosystems for the delivery of drugs.

Oligosaccharides contained on the surface of cells play an important role in intercellular interactions mediated by the corresponding receptors. This phenomenon can also be used for targeted drug delivery. For example, the modification of liposomes by an oligosaccharide [2] contained on the surface of activated lymphocytes helps guide these liposomes into activated platelets that have a receptor for such oligosaccharides (see fig.). This technique allows the concentration of drugs in vascular injury zones and may find application in treatment of cardiovascular diseases.


Liposome surface is modified by polyethyleneglycol and specific oligosaccharide (1,2-distearoil
Liposome surface is modified by polyethyleneglycol and specific oligosaccharide (1,2-distearoil-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine) for targeted delivery of drug to a blood vessel damage area [2].


  • Shlyakhtin Oleg A.


  1. Oligosaccharides // Chemical encyclopedia (in Russian). V. 3. — Мoscow: Bol'shaja Rossijjskaja ehnciklopedija, 1992. 377–379 pp.
  2. Zhu J. et al. Biomimetic glycoliposomes as nanocarriers for targeting P-selectin on activated platelets // Bioconjug Chem. 2007. V. 18, №5. 1366–1369 pp.

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