International immunopharmacology vol:4 issue:14 pages:1745-55
The clear pulp, also known as inner gel, of Aloe vera L. leaf is widely used in various medical, cosmetic and nutraceutical applications. Many beneficial effects of this plant have been attributed to the polysaccharides present in the pulp. However, discrepancies exist regarding the composition of pulp polysaccharide species and an understanding of pulp structure in relation to its chemical composition has been lacking. Thus, we examined pulp structure, isolated structural components and determined their carbohydrate compositions along with analyzing a partially purified pulp-based product (Acemannan hydrogel) used to make Carrisyn hydrogel wound dressing. Light and electron microscopy showed that the pulp consisted of large clear mesophyll cells with a diameter as large as 1000 microm. These cells were composed of cell walls and cell membranes along with a very limited number of degenerated cellular organelles. No intact cellular organelles were found in mesophyll cells. Following disruption of pulp by homogenization, three components were isolated by sequential centrifugation. They were thin clear sheets, microparticles and a viscous liquid gel, which corresponded to cell wall, degenerated cellular organelles and liquid content of mesophyll cells based on morphological and chemical analysis. These three components accounted for 16.2% (+/-3.8), 0.70% (+/-0) and 83.1% of the pulp on a dry weight basis. The carbohydrate composition of each component was distinct; liquid gel contained mannan, microparticles contained galactose-rich polysaccharide(s) and cell walls contained an unusually high level of galacturonic acid (34%, w/w; Gal A). The same three components were also found in Acemannan Hydrogel with mannan as the predominant component. Thus, different pulp structural components are associated with different polysaccharides and thus may potentially be different functionally. These findings may help lay a basis for further studies and development of better controlled processing methods and applications for this well-accepted medicinal plant.