What Is Sialic Acid?

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What Is Sialic Acid?


N-acetylneuraminic acid (sialic acid) is found in a wide variety of substances and tissues in animals and humans, occurring most abundantly in glycoproteins and glycolipids. An acidic aminosugar was first isolated and named sialic acid by one scientist. Another isolated a similar crystallized form and called it neuraminic acid.


When both were found to be the same molecule, the correct structure was proposed by a third scientist. All three finally agreed to use sialic acid as the family name covering all of the more than thirty derivatives of neuraminic acid, with N-acetylneuraminic acid and N-glycolylneuraminic acid forming the core structures.


Sialic acid is widely distributed throughout human tissues and found in several fluids, including serum, cerebrospinal fluid, saliva, urine, amniotic fluid, and mother?s milk. In experimental mammals, it is found in high levels in the brain, adrenal glands, and the heart. In humans, concentrations are found in the brain and kidney as well as many other tissues.


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