Glucuronic acid
Glucuronic acid is a carboxylic acid
Carboxylic acid
Carboxylic acids are organic acids characterized by the presence of at least one carboxyl group. The general formula of a carboxylic acid is R-COOH, where R is some monovalent functional group...

. Its structure is similar to that of glucose
Glucose is a simple sugar and an important carbohydrate in biology. Cells use it as the primary source of energy and a metabolic intermediate...

. However, glucuronic acid's sixth carbon is oxidized to a carboxylic acid. Its formula
Chemical formula
A chemical formula or molecular formula is a way of expressing information about the atoms that constitute a particular chemical compound....

 is C
Carbon is the chemical element with symbol C and atomic number 6. As a member of group 14 on the periodic table, it is nonmetallic and tetravalent—making four electrons available to form covalent chemical bonds...

Hydrogen is the chemical element with atomic number 1. It is represented by the symbol H. With an average atomic weight of , hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant chemical element, constituting roughly 75% of the Universe's chemical elemental mass. Stars in the main sequence are mainly...

Oxygen is the element with atomic number 8 and represented by the symbol O. Its name derives from the Greek roots ὀξύς and -γενής , because at the time of naming, it was mistakenly thought that all acids required oxygen in their composition...


The salt
In chemistry, salts are ionic compounds that result from the neutralization reaction of an acid and a base. They are composed of cations and anions so that the product is electrically neutral...

s and ester
Esters are chemical compounds derived by reacting an oxoacid with a hydroxyl compound such as an alcohol or phenol. Esters are usually derived from an inorganic acid or organic acid in which at least one -OH group is replaced by an -O-alkyl group, and most commonly from carboxylic acids and...

s of glucuronic acid are known as glucuronates; the anion C6H9O7 is the glucuronate ion.

Glucuronic acid should not be confused with gluconic acid
Gluconic acid
Gluconic acid is an organic compound with molecular formula C6H12O7 and condensed structural formula HOCH24COOH. It is one of the 16 stereoisomers of 2,3,4,5,6-pentahydroxyhexanoic acid....

, a linear carboxylic acid resulting from the oxidation of a different carbon of glucose. Both glucuronic acid and gluconic acid are reported to be found in the fermented drink known as kombucha.


Glucuronic acid is common in carbohydrate chains of proteoglycan
Proteoglycans are proteins that are heavily glycosylated. The basic proteoglycan unit consists of a "core protein" with one or more covalently attached glycosaminoglycan chain. The point of attachment is a Ser residue to which the glycosaminoglycan is joined through a tetrasaccharide bridge...

s. It is part of mucous animal secretions (such as saliva), cell glycocalyx
Glycocalyx is a general term referring to extracellular polymeric material produced by some bacteria, epithelia and other cells. The slime on the outside of a fish is considered a glycocalyx. The term was initially applied to the polysaccharide matrix excreted by epithelial cells forming a...

 and intercellular matrix (for instance hyaluronan
Hyaluronan is an anionic, nonsulfated glycosaminoglycan distributed widely throughout connective, epithelial, and neural tissues...


Glucuronidation of toxic substances

In the animal body, glucuronic acid is often linked to the xenobiotic metabolism
Xenobiotic metabolism
Xenobiotic metabolism is the set of metabolic pathways that modify the chemical structure of xenobiotics, which are compounds foreign to an organism's normal biochemistry, such as drugs and poisons...

 of substances such as drug
A drug, broadly speaking, is any substance that, when absorbed into the body of a living organism, alters normal bodily function. There is no single, precise definition, as there are different meanings in drug control law, government regulations, medicine, and colloquial usage.In pharmacology, a...

s, pollutants, bilirubin
Bilirubin is the yellow breakdown product of normal heme catabolism. Heme is found in hemoglobin, a principal component of red blood cells. Bilirubin is excreted in bile and urine, and elevated levels may indicate certain diseases...

, androgen
Androgen, also called androgenic hormone or testoid, is the generic term for any natural or synthetic compound, usually a steroid hormone, that stimulates or controls the development and maintenance of male characteristics in vertebrates by binding to androgen receptors...

s, estrogen
Estrogens , oestrogens , or œstrogens, are a group of compounds named for their importance in the estrous cycle of humans and other animals. They are the primary female sex hormones. Natural estrogens are steroid hormones, while some synthetic ones are non-steroidal...

s, mineralocorticoid
Mineralocorticoids are a class of steroid hormones characterised by their similarity to aldosterone and their influence on salt and water balances.-Physiology:...

s, glucocorticoid
Glucocorticoids are a class of steroid hormones that bind to the glucocorticoid receptor , which is present in almost every vertebrate animal cell...

s, fatty acid
Fatty acid
In chemistry, especially biochemistry, a fatty acid is a carboxylic acid with a long unbranched aliphatic tail , which is either saturated or unsaturated. Most naturally occurring fatty acids have a chain of an even number of carbon atoms, from 4 to 28. Fatty acids are usually derived from...

 derivatives, retinoid
The retinoids are a class of chemical compounds that are related chemically to vitamin A. Retinoids are used in medicine, primarily due to the way they regulate epithelial cell growth....

s, and bile acid
Bile acid
Bile acids are steroid acids found predominantly in the bile of mammals. Bile salts are bile acids compounded with a cation, usually sodium. In humans, the salts of taurocholic acid and glycocholic acid represent approximately eighty percent of all bile salts. The two major bile acids are cholic...

s. These linkages involve glycosidic bond
Glycosidic bond
In chemistry, a glycosidic bond is a type of covalent bond that joins a carbohydrate molecule to another group, which may or may not be another carbohydrate....

s, and this linkage process is known as glucuronidation
Glucuronidation is the addition of glucuronic acid to a substrate. Glucuronidation is often involved in xenobiotic metabolism of substances such as drugs, pollutants, bilirubin, androgens, estrogens, mineralocorticoids, glucocorticoids, fatty acid derivatives, retinoids, and bile acids...

. Glucuronidation occurs mainly in the liver
The liver is a vital organ present in vertebrates and some other animals. It has a wide range of functions, including detoxification, protein synthesis, and production of biochemicals necessary for digestion...

, although the enzyme responsible for its catalysis
Catalysis is the change in rate of a chemical reaction due to the participation of a substance called a catalyst. Unlike other reagents that participate in the chemical reaction, a catalyst is not consumed by the reaction itself. A catalyst may participate in multiple chemical transformations....

, UDP-glucuronyltransferase, has been found in all major body organs, e.g., intestine
In human anatomy, the intestine is the segment of the alimentary canal extending from the pyloric sphincter of the stomach to the anus and, in humans and other mammals, consists of two segments, the small intestine and the large intestine...

, kidney
The kidneys, organs with several functions, serve essential regulatory roles in most animals, including vertebrates and some invertebrates. They are essential in the urinary system and also serve homeostatic functions such as the regulation of electrolytes, maintenance of acid–base balance, and...

s, brain
The brain is the center of the nervous system in all vertebrate and most invertebrate animals—only a few primitive invertebrates such as sponges, jellyfish, sea squirts and starfishes do not have one. It is located in the head, usually close to primary sensory apparatus such as vision, hearing,...

, adrenal gland
Adrenal gland
In mammals, the adrenal glands are endocrine glands that sit atop the kidneys; in humans, the right suprarenal gland is triangular shaped, while the left suprarenal gland is semilunar shaped...

, spleen
The spleen is an organ found in virtually all vertebrate animals with important roles in regard to red blood cells and the immune system. In humans, it is located in the left upper quadrant of the abdomen. It removes old red blood cells and holds a reserve of blood in case of hemorrhagic shock...

, and thymus
The thymus is a specialized organ of the immune system. The thymus produces and "educates" T-lymphocytes , which are critical cells of the adaptive immune system....


The substances resulting from glucuronidation are known as glucuronide
A glucuronide, also known as glucuronoside, is any substance produced by linking glucuronic acid to another substance via a glycosidic bond...

s (or glucuronosides) and are typically much more water
Water is a chemical substance with the chemical formula H2O. A water molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms connected by covalent bonds. Water is a liquid at ambient conditions, but it often co-exists on Earth with its solid state, ice, and gaseous state . Water also exists in a...

-soluble than the non-glucuronic acid-containing substance from which they were originally synthesised. The human body uses glucuronidation to make a large variety of substances more water-soluble, and, in this way, allow for their subsequent elimination from the body through urine or faeces (via bile from the liver). Hormone
A hormone is a chemical released by a cell or a gland in one part of the body that sends out messages that affect cells in other parts of the organism. Only a small amount of hormone is required to alter cell metabolism. In essence, it is a chemical messenger that transports a signal from one...

s may also be glucuronidated to allow for easier transport around the body. Pharmacologists have linked drugs to glucuronic acid to allow for more effective delivery of a broad range of substances. Sometimes toxic substances are also less toxic after glucuronidation.

The conjugation of xenobiotic molecules with hydrophilic molecular species such as glucuronic acid is known as phase II metabolism.


Determination of urinary steroids and of steroid conjugates in blood.

Contained in some commercially available brands of Kombucha as an antioxidant & organic acid

In all plants and mammals-other than guinea pigs and primates-glucuronic acid is a precursor of ascorbic acid
Ascorbic acid
Ascorbic acid is a naturally occurring organic compound with antioxidant properties. It is a white solid, but impure samples can appear yellowish. It dissolves well in water to give mildly acidic solutions. Ascorbic acid is one form of vitamin C. The name is derived from a- and scorbutus , the...

, also known as vitamin c
Vitamin C
Vitamin C or L-ascorbic acid or L-ascorbate is an essential nutrient for humans and certain other animal species. In living organisms ascorbate acts as an antioxidant by protecting the body against oxidative stress...



Unlike its C5 epimer
In chemistry, epimers are diastereomers that differ in configuration of only one stereogenic center. Diastereomers are a class of stereoisomers that are non-superposable, non-mirror images of one another....

 iduronic acid
Iduronic acid
L-Iduronic acid is the major uronic acid component of the glycosaminoglycans dermatan sulfate, and heparin. It is also present in heparan sulfate although here in a minor amount relative to its carbon-5 epimer glucuronic acid....

, which may occur in a number of conformations, glucuronic acid occurs in predominantly the 4C1 conformation.


Beta-glucuronidases are members of the glycosidase family of enzymes that catalyze breakdown of complex carbohydrates. Human β-glucuronidase is a type of glucuronidase that catalyzes hydrolysis of β-D-glucuronic acid residues from the non-reducing end of mucopolysaccharides such as heparan sulfate...

s are those enzymes that hydrolyze the glycosidic bond
Glycosidic bond
In chemistry, a glycosidic bond is a type of covalent bond that joins a carbohydrate molecule to another group, which may or may not be another carbohydrate....

between glucuronic acid and some other compound.
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