A Review on Gum Tragacanth and Its Biomedical Applications

Document Type : Review Article


1 Central Iran Research Complex, Nuclear Science and Technology Research Institute, Yazd, I.R. IRAN

2 Research Group for Food Production Engineering, National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark, Lyngby, DENMARK


Gum Tragacanth (GT) is a heterogeneous highly branched polysaccharide obtained from Asiatic species of Astragalus. Iran is the world’s largest producer of GT. This gum has been vastly used in food, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, ceramic and textile industries. In recent decades, the world market for GT has severely decreased due to a number of reasons such as the war between Iran and Iraq and the approval of xanthan gum for the food industry with the advantage of low price and constant quality. In recent years, owing to desirable properties and advantage of the use of GT in medicine, research on biomedical applications of this gum continues to grow significantly. In this study, along with a report on the properties of GT, the research on the new applications of this gum in biomedical fields are reviewed. Overall, tragacanth has excellent water adsorption capacity, biodegradability and biocompatibility, and a great potential for chemical and physical modifications. In addition, the presence of fucose and galactose in the branches of GT has improved its potential for application in tissue engineering and gene/drug delivery. So, it can be used as a promising candidate for biomedical applications in near future. To meet this expectation, further study on gum characterization and modification is necessary. However, it should be noted that the gum exudate from various species of Astragalus had different soluble/swellable ratio, chemical composition, methoxyl content and acetylation degree, so exhibit different rheological properties, ability to reduce surface tension, ability to increase viscosity, chemistry, physical and chemical interaction and other behaviors. Consequently, any try for development of biomedical applications of tragacanth without respect to the plant species will lead to misleading results.


Main Subjects

[1] Verbeken D., Dierckx S.,Dewettinck K., Exudate Gums: Occurrence, Production, and Applications. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, 63: 10-21 (2003).
[2] Tavakol M., “Preparation of New In situ Forming (Injectable) Hydrogel Using Tragacanth Natural Gum for Cartilage Tissue Engineering, PhD Thesis, Tarbiat Modares University, p. 17, (2014).
[3] Gavlighi H.A., Meyer A.S., Zaidel D.N.A., Mohammadifar M.A.,Mikkelsen J.D., Stabilization of Emulsions by Gum Tragacanth (Astragalus spp.) Correlates to the Galacturonic Acid Content and Methoxylation Degree of the Gum, Food Hydrocolloids, 31: 5-14 (2013).
[4]  Balaghi S., Mohammadifar M.A., Zargaraan A., Gavlighi H.A.,Mohammadi M., Compositional Analysis and Rheological Characterization of Gum Tragacanth Exudates from Six Species of Iranian Astragalus, Food Hydrocolloids, 25: 1775-1784 (2011).
[5] Mohammadifar M.A., Musavi S.M., Kiumarsi A.,Williams P.A., Solution Properties of Targacanthin (Water-Soluble Part of Gum Tragacanth Exudate from Astragalus Gossypinus), International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, 38: 31-39 (2006).
[6] Tischer C.A., Iacomini M.,Gorin P.A.J., Structure of the Arabinogalactan from Gum Tragacanth (Astralagus Gummifer), Carbohydrate Research, 337: 1647-1655 (2002).
[7] Khajavi R., Pourgharbi S.H.M., Kiumarsi A.,Rashidi A., Gum Tragacanth Fibers from Astragalus Gummifer Species: Effects of Influencing Factors on Mechanical Properties of Fibers, Journal of Applied Sciences, 7: 2861-2865 (2007).
[8] Yokoyama A., Srinivasan K.R.,Fogler H.S., Stabilization Mechanism of Colloidal Suspensions by Gum Tragacanth: The Influence of pH on Stability, Journal of Colloid And Interface Science, 126: 141-149 (1988).
[9] Mohamadnia Z., Zohuriaan-Mehr M.J., Kabiri K.,Razavi-Nouri M., Tragacanth Gum-Graft-Polyacrylonitrile: Synthesis, Characterization and Hydrolysis. Journal of Polymer Research, 15: 173-180 (2008).
[10] Aspinall G.O.,Baillie J., Gum Tragacanth. Part ii.1 the Arabinogalactan, Journal of the Chemical Society (Resumed),      : 1702-1714 (1963).
[11] Gralén N.,Kärrholm M., The Physicochemical Properties of Solutions of Gum Tragacanth, Journal of Colloid Science, 5: 21-36 (1950).
[12] Davidson R.L., "Handbook of Water-Soluble Gums and Resins", McGraw-Hill, New York, (1980).
[13] Zohuriaan M.J.,Shokrolahi F., Thermal Studies on Natural and Modified Gums, Polymer Testing, 23: 575-579 (2004).
[15] Farzi M., Emam-Djomeh Z.,Mohammadifar M.A., A Comparative Study on the Emulsifying Properties of Various Species of Gum Tragacanth, International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, 57: 76-82 (2013).
[16] Balaghi S., Mohammadifar M.A., Zargaraan A., Physicochemical and Rheological Characterization of Gum Tragacanth Exudates from Six Species of Iranian Astragalus, Food Biophysics, 5: 59-71 (2010).
[17] Alijani S., Balaghi S.,Mohammadifar M.A., Effect of Gamma Irradiation on Rheological Properties of Polysaccharides Exuded by A. Fluccosus and A. Gossypinus, International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, 49: 471-479 (2011).
[18] Farzi M., Saffari M.M., Emam-Djomeh Z.,Mohammadifar M.A., Effect of Ultrasonic Treatment on the Rheological Properties and Particle Size of Gum Tragacanth Dispersions from Different Species, International Journal of Food Science and Technology, 46: 849-854 (2011).
[19] Censi R., Di Martino P., Vermonden T., Hennink W.E., Hydrogels for Protein Delivery in Tissue Engineering. Journal of Controlled Release, 161: 680-692 (2012).
[20] Tavakol M., Vasheghani-Farahani E., Soleimani M., Mohammadifar M.A., Hashemi-Najafabadi S., Hafizi M., Synthesis and Characterization of an Enzyme Mediated in Situ Forming Hydrogel Based on Gum Tragacanth for Biomedical Applications, Iranian Journal of Biotechnology, 12: 15811-15817 (2013).
[21] Fattahi A., Petrini P., Munarin F., Shokoohinia Y., Golozar M.A., Varshosaz J.,Tanzi M.C., Polysaccharides Derived from Tragacanth as Biocompatible Polymers and Gels, Journal of Applied Polymer Science, 129: 2092-2102 (2013).
[22] Haeri S.M.J., Sadeghi Y., Salehi M., Farahani R.M.,Mohsen N., Osteogenic Differentiation of Human Adipose-Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells on Gum Tragacanth Hydrogel, Biologicals, 44: 123-128 (2016).
[23] Fayazzadeh E., Rahimpour S., Ahmadi S.M., Farzampour S., Anvari M.S., Boroumand M.A., Ahmadi S.H., Acceleration of Skin Wound Healing with Tragacanth (Astragalus) Preparation: An Experimental Pilot Study in Rats, Acta Medica Iranica, 52: 3-8 (2014).
[24] Patil P.R., Thorat R.U., Puranik P.K., Zinjan R.V.,Salve V.K., Natural Polymers Used in Modified Drug Delivery and Its Incompatibility: A Review, International Journal of Pharmaceutical Research and Development, 4: 83-92 (2013).
[25] Kaffashi B., Zandieh A.,Khadiv-Parsi P., Drug Release Study of Systems Containing the Tragacanth and Collagen Composite: Release Characterization and Viscoelastic Measurements, Macromolecular Symposia, 239: 120-129 (2006).
[26] Ali M.S., Singh S., Kumar A., Ansari M.T.,Pattnaik G., Preparation and in vitro Evaluation of Sustained Release Matrix Tablets of Phenytoin Sodium Using Natural Polymers, International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, 2: 174-179 (2010).
[27] Gursoy A.,Cevik S., Sustained Release Properties of Alginate Microspheres and Tabletted Microspheres of Diclofenac Sodium, Journal of Microencapsulation, 17: 565-575 (2000).
[28] Siahi M., Barzegar-Jalali M., Monajjemzadeh F., Ghaffari F.,Azarmi S., Design and Evaluation of 1- and 3-Layer Matrices of Verapamil Hydrochloride for Sustaining Its Release, AAPS PharmSciTech, 6: 1626-1632 (2005).
[29] Anderson D.M.W.,Grant D.A.D., The Chemical Characterization of Some Astragalus Gum Exudates, Food Hydrocolloids, 2: 417-423 (1988).
[30] James S.P.,Smith F., The Chemistry of Gum Tragacanth. Part II. Derivatives of d- and l-Fucose, Journal of the Chemical Society (Resumed),      : 746-748 (1945).
[31] James S.P.,Smith F., The Chemistry of Gum Tragacanth. Part I. Tragacanthic Acid, Journal of the Chemical Society (Resumed), : 739-746 (1945).
[32] James S.P.,Smith F., The Chemistry of Gum Tragacanth. Part III, Journal of the Chemical Society (Resumed),      : 749-751 (1945).
[33] Dollimore D.,Karimian R., The Thermal Decomposition of Gum Tragacanth in Nitrogen, Thermochimica Acta, 51: 353-361 (1981).
[34] Chambers W.P., The Evaluation of Tragacanth by Means of the Apparent Viscosity, The Journal of pharmacy and pharmacology, 1: 103-107 (1949).
[35] Brown E.B.,Crepea S.B., Allergy (asthma) to Ingested Gum Tragacanth. A Case Refort, Journal of Allergy, 18: 214-215 (1947).
[36] Strobel S., Ferguson A.,Anderson D.M.W., Immunogenicity, Immunological Cross Reactivity and Non-Specific Irritant Properties of the Exudate Gums, Arabic, Karaya and Tragacanth, Food Additives and Contaminants, 3: 47-56 (1986).
[37] Hagiwara A., Tanaka H., Tiwawech D., Shirai T.,Ito N., Oral Toxicity Study of Tragacanth Gum in B6C3F1 Mice: Development of Squamous-Cell Hyperplasia in the Forestomach and Its Reversibility, Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, 34: 207-218 (1991).
[38] Hagiwara A., Boonyaphiphat P., Kawabe M., Naito H., Shirai T.,Ito N., Lack of Carcinogenicity of Tragacanth Gum in B6C3F1 Mice. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 30: 673-679 (1992).
[39] Smee D.F., Sidwell R.W., Hoffman J.H., Huggins J.W., Kende M.,Verbiscar A.J., Antiviral Activities of Tragacanthin Polysaccharides on Punta Toro Virus Infections in Mice, Chemotherapy, 42: 286-293 (1996).
[43] Torres M.D., Moreira R., Chenlo F.,Vázquez M.J., Water Adsorption Isotherms of Carboxymethyl Cellulose, Guar, Locust Bean, Tragacanth and Xanthan Gums, Carbohydrate Polymers, 89: 592-598 (2012).
[44] Teimouri S., Abbasi S.,Sheikh N., Effects of Gamma Irradiation on Some Physicochemical and Rheological Properties of Persian Gum and Gum Tragacanth, Food Hydrocolloids, 59: 9-16 (2016).
[45] Iqbal Z., Khan R., Nasir F., Khan J.A., Rashid A., Khan A.,Khan A., Preparation and Invitro Invivo Evaluation of Sustained Release Matrix Diclofenac Sodium Tablets Using PVP-K90 and Natural Gums, Pakistan Journal of Pharmaceutical Science, 24: 435-493 (2011).
[46] Rasul A., Iqbal M., Murtaza G., Waqas M.K., Hanif M., Khan S.A.,Bhatti N.S.,Design, Development and in-Vitro Evaluation of Metoprolol Tartrate Tablets Containing Xanthan-Tragacanth, Acta Poloniae Pharmaceutica - Drug Research, 67: 517-522 (2010).
[47] Nakano M.,Ogata A., Examination of Natural Gums as Matrices for Sustained Release of Theophylline, Chemical and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, 32: 782-785 (1984).
[48] Dehghan-Niri M., Tavakol M., Vasheghani-Farahani E.,Ganji F., Drug Release From Enzyme-Mediated in Situ-Forming Hydrogel Based on Gum Tragacanth–Tyramine Conjugate,. Journal of Biomaterials Applications, 29: 1343-1350 (2015).
[49] Tavakol M., Vasheghani-Farahani E., Mohammadifar M.A., Soleimani M., Hashemi-Najafabadi S., Synthesis and Characterization of an in Situ Forming Hydrogel Using Tyramine Conjugated High Methoxyl Gum Tragacanth, Journal of Biomaterials Applications, 30: 1016-1025 (2016).
[50] Tavakol M., Dehshiri S.,Vasheghani-Farahani E., Electron Beam Irradiation Crosslinked Hydrogels Based on Tyramine Conjugated Gum Tragacanth, Carbohydrate Polymers, 152: 504-509 (2016).
[51] Singh B., Varshney L., Francis S.,Rajneesh, Designing Tragacanth Gum Based Sterile Hydrogel by Radiation Method for Use in Drug Delivery and Wound Dressing applications. International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, 88: 586-602 (2016).
[53] Kiani A., Shahbazi M., Asempour H., Hydrogel Membranes Based on Gum Tragacanth with Tunable Structure and Properties. I. Preparation Method Using Taguchi Experimental Design, Journal of Applied Polymer Science, 124: 99-108 (2012).
[54] Otady M., Vaziri A., Seifkordi A.A.,Kheirolomoom A., Gum Tragacanth Gels as a New Supporting Matrix for Immobilization of Whole-Cell, Iranian Journal of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering (IJCCE), 24: 1-7 (2005).
[57] Alchihab M., Destain J., Aguedo M., Wathelet J.P.,Thonart P., The Utilization of Gum Tragacanth to Improve the Growth of Rhodotorula Aurantiaca and the Production of γ-Decalactone in Large Scale, Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology, 162: 233-241 (2010).
[59] Saruchi, Kaith B.S., Jindal R.,Kapur G.S., Synthesis of Gum Tragacanth and Acrylic Acid Based Hydrogel: Its Evaluation for Controlled Release of Antiulcerative Drug Pantoprazole Sodium, Journal of the Chinese Advanced Materials Society, 2: 110-117 (2014).
[60] Hemmati K.,Ghaemy M., Synthesis of New Thermo/pH Sensitive Drug Delivery Systems Based on Tragacanth Gum Polysaccharide, International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, 87: 415-425 (2016).
[62] Ranjbar-Mohammadi M., Bahrami S.H.,Joghataei M.T., Fabrication of Novel Nanofiber Scaffolds From Gum Tragacanth/poly(vinyl alcohol) for Wound Dressing Application:
In Vitro Evaluation and Antibacterial Propertie,
. Materials Science and Engineering C, 33: 4935-4943 (2013).
[63] Ranjbar-Mohammadi M.,Bahrami S.H., Electrospun Curcumin Loaded Poly(ε-caprolactone)/Gum Tragacanth Nanofibers for Biomedical Application, International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, 84: 448-456 (2016).
[64] Ranjbar-Mohammadi M., Zamani M., Prabhakaran M.P., Bahrami S.H.,Ramakrishna S., Electrospinning of PLGA/Gum Tragacanth Nanofibers Containing Tetracycline Hydrochloride for Periodontal Regeneration, Materials Science and Engineering: C, 58: 521-531 (2016).
[65] Ranjbar-Mohammadi M., Prabhakaran M.P., Bahrami S.H.,Ramakrishna S., Gum Tragacanth/poly(l-lactic acid) Nanofibrous Scaffolds for Application in Regeneration of Peripheral Nerve Damage, Carbohydrate Polymers, 140: 104-112 (2016).
[66] Ranjbar-Mohammadi M.,Bahrami S.H., Development of Nanofibrous Scaffolds Containing Gum Tragacanth/poly(ε-caprolactone) for Application as Skin Scaffolds, Materials Science and Engineering C, 48: 71-79 (2015).
[67] Mohammadi M.R., Rabbani S., Bahrami S.H., Joghataei M.T.,Moayer F., Antibacterial Performance and in Vivo Diabetic Wound Healing of Curcumin Loaded Gum Tragacanth/Poly(ε-caprolactone) Electrospun Nanofibers, Materials Science and Engineering: C, 69: 1183-1191 (2016).
[68] Khajavi R., Hajmalek M., Ashtiyani F.S., Toliat T., Sattari M., Mirjalili M., Anti Bacterial Scaffolds Based on Gum Tragacanth for Wound Caring Under Moist Conditions, Medical Sciences, 23: 206-211 (2013).
[69] Moghbel A., Hemmati A.A., Agheli H., Rashidi I.,Amraee K., The Effect of Tragacanth Mucilage on the Healing of Full-Thickness Wound in Rabbit, Archives of Iranian Medicine, 8: 257-262 (2005).
[70] Hasandokht Firooz M., Mohammadifar M.A.,Haratian P., Self-Assembly of β-Lactoglobulin and the Soluble Fraction of Gum Tragacanth in Aqueous Medium, International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, 50: 925-931 (2012).
[72] Ghorbani Gorji S., Ghorbani Gorji E., Mohammadifar M.A., Zargaraan A., Complexation of Sodium Caseinate with Gum Tragacanth: Effect of Various Species and Rheology of Coacervates, International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, 67: 503-511 (2014).
[74] Hatami M., Nejatian M., Mohammadifar M.A.,Pourmand H., Milk Protein–Gum Tragacanth Mixed Gels: Effect of Heat-Treatment Sequence, Carbohydrate Polymers, 101: 1068-1073 (2014).
[75] Jain A., Thakur D., Ghoshal G., Katare O.P., Shivhare U.S., Characterization of Microcapsulated β-Carotene Formed by Complex Coacervation Using Casein and Gum Tragacanth, International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, 87: 101-113 (2016).
[76] Fattahi A., Sadrjavadi K., Golozar M.A., Varshosaz J., Fathi M.-H., Mirmohammad-Sadeghi H., Preparation and Characterization of Oligochitosan–Tragacanth Nanoparticles as a Novel Gene Carrier, Carbohydrate Polymers, 97: 277-283 (2013).
[77] Nayeri H., Fattahi A., Iranpoor-mobarakeh M.,Nori P., Stabilization of Lactoperoxidase by Tragacanth-Chitosan Nano Biopolymer, International Journal of Biosciences, 6: 418-426 (2015).
[78] Ghayempour S.,Montazer M., Ultrasound Irradiation Based in-Situ Synthesis of Star-Like Tragacanth Gum/Zinc Oxide Nanoparticles on Cotton Fabric, Ultrasonics Sonochemistry, 34: 458-465  (2017).
[80] Azarikia F.,Abbasi S., On the Stabilization Mechanism of Doogh (Iranian yoghurt drink) by Gum Tragacanth, Food Hydrocolloids, 24: 358-363 (2010).
[81] Gorji E.G., Mohammadifar M.A.,Ezzatpanah H., Influence of Gum Tragacanth, Astragalus Gossypinus, Addition on Stability of Nonfat Doogh, an Iranian Fermented Milk Drink, International Journal of Dairy Technology, 64: 262-268 (2011).
[82] Omidbakhsh amiri E., Nayebzadeh K.,Mohammadifar M.A., Comparative Studies of Xanthan, Guar and Tragacanth Gums on Stability and Rheological Properties of Fresh and Stored Ketchup. Journal of Food Science and Technology, 52: 7123-7132 (2015).
[83] Keshtkaran M., Mohammadifar M.A., Asadi G.H., Nejad R.A.,Balaghi S., Effect of Gum Tragacanth on Rheological and Physical Properties of a Flavored Milk Drink Made with Date Syrup, Journal of Dairy Science, 96: 4794-4803 (2013).
[84] Abdolmaleki K., Mohammadifar M.A., Mohammadi R., Fadavi G.,Meybodi N.M., The Effect of pH and Salt on the Stability and Physicochemical Properties of Oil-in-Water Emulsions Prepared with Gum Tragacanth, Carbohydrate Polymers, 140: 342-348 (2016).
[85] Farzi M., Yarmand M.S., Safari M., Emam-Djomeh Z.,Mohammadifar M.A., Gum Tragacanth Dispersions: Particle Size and Rheological Properties Affected by High-Shear Homogenization, International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, 79: 433-439 (2015).
[86] Nejatian M., Hatami M.,Mohammadifar M.A., Effect of Gum Tragacanth Exuded by Three Iranian Astragalus on Mixed Milk Protein System During Acid Gelation, International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, 53: 168-176 (2013).
[88] Kurt A., Cengiz A.,Kahyaoglu T., The Effect of Gum Tragacanth on the Rheological Properties of Salep Based Ice Cream Mix, Carbohydrate Polymers, 143: 116-123 (2016).
[89] López-Castejón M.L., Bengoechea C., García-Morales M.,Martínez I., Influence of Tragacanth Gum in Egg White Based Bioplastics: Thermomechanical and Water Uptake Properties, Carbohydrate Polymers, 152: 62-69 (2016).
[90] Mostafavi F.S., Kadkhodaee R., Emadzadeh B.,Koocheki A., Preparation and Characterization of Tragacanth–Locust Bean Gum Edible Blend Films, Carbohydrate Polymers, 139: 20-27 (2016).
[91] López-Castejón M.L., Bengoechea C., García-Morales M.,Martínez I., Effect of Plasticizer and Storage Conditions on Thermomechanical Properties of Albumen/Tragacanth Based Bioplastics, Food and Bioproducts Processing, 95: 264-271 (2015).
[93] Khoylou F.,Naimian F., Radiation Synthesis of Superabsorbent Polyethylene Oxide/Tragacanth Hydrogel, Radiation Physics and Chemistry, 78: 195-198 (2009).
[94] Mohammadifar M.A., Musavi S.M.,Williams P.A., Study of Complex Coacervation Between β-Lactoglobulin and Tragacanthin (Soluble Part of Gum Tragacanth). Milchwissenschaft, 62: 389-392 (2007).
[95] Sadat Hosseini M., Hemmati K.,Ghaemy M., Synthesis of Nanohydrogels Based on Tragacanth Gum Biopolymer and Investigation of Swelling and Drug Delivery, International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, 82: 806-815 (2016).