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Any of a large class of long-chain sugars composed of monosaccharides. Because the chains may be unbranched or branched and the monosaccharides may be of one, two, or occasionally more kinds, polysaccharides can be categorized in various ways. Cellulose, starch, glycogen, and dextran are all polysaccharides of glucose, with different configurations. Pectins are composed of a galactose derivative, chitin of a glucose derivative. Connective tissues, joint fluid, and cartilage contain two-component polysaccharides, including heparin. See alsooligosaccharide.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on polysaccharide, visit Britannica.com.