Pectic Substances

Pectic substances are a group of complex polysaccharides localized to the middle lamella, intercellular crevices, and primary cell walls of most if not all higher plants (1). They are significant contributors to the texture of fruits and vegetables and their processed products (2). Pectin and/or pectin fragments have been reported to possess pharmacological activities that include immunostimulation, anti-metastasis, hypoglycemic, and cholesterol-lowering effects (3). In addition to the obvious structural role of pectic polysaccharides in plants, pectic fragments act as chemical messengers in the development, growth, senescence, and biochemical protection of plants (4).

Because the gel-forming properties of pectin substances (pectin is derived from a Greek word meaning to congeal or solidify) were discovered before the development of modern organic and macromolecular chemistry, common rather than structural names were applied to pectic polysaccharides, and these persist (5).

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