REVIEW Dextran is a complex branched glucan composed of chains of varying lengths, from 3 to 2000 kilodaltons. It is used as a replacement for blood loss, a plasma substitute, an antithrombotic, to reduce blood viscosity, to improve blood flow and as a volume expander in anemia. The straight chain consists of a-1,6 glycosidic linkages between glucose molecules, while branches begin from a-1,3 linkages. Dextran is synthesized from sucrose by certain lactic-acid bacteria, the best-known being Leuconostoc mesenteroides and Streptococcus mutans. Dental plaque is rich in dextrans. Dextran was first discovered by Louis Pasteur as a microbial product in wine.
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