Hyaluronan (HA), also termed hyaluronic acid or hyaluronate, is a major component of the extracellular matrix. This non-sulfated glycosaminoglycan plays a key role in cell proliferation, growth, survival, polarization, and differentiation. The diverse biological roles of HA are linked to the combination of HA’s physicochemical properties and HA-binding proteins. These unique characteristics have encouraged the application of HA-based hydrogel scaffolds for stem cell-based therapy, a successful method in the treatment of limbal stem cell deficiency (LSCD). This condition occurs following direct damage to limbal stem cells and/or changes in the limbal stem cell niche microenvironment due to intrinsic and extrinsic insults. This paper reviews the physical properties, synthesis, and degradation of HA. In addition, the interaction of HA with other extracellular matrix (ECM) components and receptor proteins are discussed. Finally, studies employing HA-based hydrogel scaffolds in the treatment of LSCD are reviewed.
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