Tag Archives: cysteine

Chronic Liver Disease Shows Amino Acid-Sulphur Deficiency

Turns out that your liver can benefit from the sulphur-containing amino acids methionine and cysteine. Health benefits of amino acids such as these are excellent, but this is especially true for those with liver disease. As it turns out, those with chronic liver disease actually show a pattern of sulphur deficiency, so both cysteine and methionine may help with this.

Advanced liver disease and methionine / cysteine amino acids

In advanced or chronic liver disease, the metabolism of the sulphur-containing aminos, such as methionine and cysteine, are is impaired (no difference in the amino acid taurine, however).

In a study by P Almasio, G Bianchi, et al., at the Clinica Medica R, Università di Palermo, in Italy, the researchers published their discoveries based on 60 people who had chronic liver disease. The results show a pattern of amino acid deficiency in these patients.

10 of the subjects were used a control because they were healthy, but the other 50 patients had chronic liver disease, which was proven via biopsy.

The breakdown of their liver disease impairments

Hypermethioninemia (an extreme amount of methionine) was present in only these cases:

10 cases compensated cirrhosis
10 cases decompensated cirrhosis

Plus there were:

30 cases chronic hepatitis

The results of this clinical trial showed cysteine, a metabolite of methionine metabolism, was “markedly reduced in patients with compensated chronic liver disease, while in advanced cirrhosis its concentration was within the normal range.”

Methionine is an essential amino acid, which means you can only get it through diet, particularly protein foods such as meats (chicken, beef, pork, lamb, plus fish and eggs). Also, cysteine is a non-essential amino acid, which means the body can produce this amino acid on its own. No differences were observed (in plasma levels) for the amino acid taurine between groups.

What was observed was how sulfur-containing amino acid metabolism was deranged and “possibly located at various steps along the trans-sulphuration pathway, is also present in mild forms of chronic liver disease.”

What this means is that a key marker for those with chronic liver disease is that sulphur-containing amino acids are deficient. This can be true for people suffering from decompensated cirrhosis), or hepatitis.

The study did not explain whether supplementing intake with cysteine or methionine would affect the—chronic liver disease–patients in a positive way or not, but it is good to know that both of these amino acids are in ample amounts when associated with healthy livers, yet levels are abnormal in diseased livers.

Reference:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8025302

Part 1: Alzheimer’s Prevention? Special Foods and Cysteine and Glutathione Levels

The amino acids cysteine and glutathione play a role, it seems, in preventing the onset of Alzheimer’s. Evidently, according to a study by SS Karuppagounder, JT Pinto, et al., in their study on “Dietary supplementation with resveratrol reduces plaque pathology in a transgenic model of Alzheimer’s disease” from the Department of Neurology and Neurosciences, at the Burke Medical Research Institute, in White Plains, New York, the amino acid levels of cysteine and glutathione are affected in Alzheimer’s patients by the same types of chemopreventive agents (cancer-preventing foods) that cancer patients would eat to help prevent cancer.

One food constituent in particular was studied by the researchers—Resveratrol. Resveratrol is a polyphenol that is found in peanuts, pomegranates, soybeans, and especially red wine. People have heard for years about resveratrol being good for the heart, but evidently it is good for the brain as well, including other neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease.

Even though resveratrol was fed to the hosts for forty-five days, it was not detectable in the brain, yet plaque formation in the regions of the brain were diminished. The majority of the diminished brain-plaques were “observed in medial cortex (-48%), striatum (-89%) and hypothalamus (-90%). … However, brain glutathione declined 21% and brain cysteine increased 54%.”

Cysteine and Glutathione’s role in chemopreventive agents

There is a list of foods, called chemopreventive agents, which help prevent cancer, that also may help with oxidative stress, destroying free radicals that also cause DNA damage, or help prevent plaques in the brain of people who may otherwise be developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD). I will cover some of these agents first:

According to one source, there are two such agents that have carcinogen-detoxifying activity that “might be achieved by combination of an agent such as N-acetyl-l-cysteine (NAC), which provides substrate for glutathione (GSH) synthesis, with agents such as oltipraz or garlic/onion disulfides, which enhance GSH S-transferases (GST).”

The food constituents will be listed further in our next section…

CONTINUE TO Part 2: Alzheimer’s Prevention? Special Foods and Cysteine and Glutathione Levels 

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19041676

http://nutrition.highwire.org/content/130/2/467S.full

http://naturalsolutionsradio.com/blog/natural-solutions-radio-administrator/amazing-nutrient-reduces-alzheimers-plaque-formation-nine

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2797420/

Part 2: Alzheimer’s Prevention? Special Foods and Cysteine and Glutathione Levels

CONTINUED FROM Part 1: Alzheimer’s Prevention? Special Foods and Cysteine and Glutathione Levels, where we covered the research done on Alzheimer’s patients that found Resveratrol affected cysteine and glutathione levels, raising the former, and reducing the latter, and their connection to reduced brain plaques. 

Chemopreventive agents that help cancer patients may also help Alzheimer’s patients…

Chemopreventive agents (food constituents), cysteine, and glutathione

Food-derived chemopreventive agents may help when used by normal-risk populations with long-term use. According to a study by GJ Kelloff, JA Crowell, et al., and their assessment, there are 40 promising agents and food combinations “being evaluated clinically as chemopreventive agents for major cancer targets including breast, prostate, colon and lung. Examples include green and black tea polyphenols, soy isoflavones, Bowman-Birk soy protease inhibitor, curcumin, phenethyl isothiocyanate, sulforaphane, lycopene, indole-3-carbinol, perillyl alcohol, vitamin D, vitamin E, selenium and calcium.” Many of these agents are available to purchase online from supplement vendors such as: GNC.com and Vitaminshoppe.com

Additionally, some natural sources that have anti-cancer, antioxidant, anti-tumor, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-viral constituents includes a huge variety of medicinal mushrooms like reishi, maitake, cordyceps, shiitake, and so on. Lion’s mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceus), in particular, boasts boosting of cognitive function, memory, and learning in those who take them regularly, as well as immune-enhancing health benefits.

Many amino acids are also known to be brain food. Cysteine and glutathione were the aminos that were implicated in the first study mentioned above, although it was the higher levels of cysteine and lowered glutathione that helped the plaque in Alzheimer’s patients.

Cysteine is a semi-essential (normally listed as a non-essential) amino acid. When it is used as a food additive, it has the E number “E920”. In rare cases this amino acid may be important for infants or the elderly, or for people with malabsorption syndromes or metabolic disease. As long as enough methionine is available, cysteine can usually be synthesized by the body.

Cysteine is found in protein foods like: beef, pork, poultry, eggs, and dairy, and in lesser amounts in plant sources such as garlic, onions, broccoli, red peppers, Brussels sprouts, granola/oats, wheat germ, or lentils.

The non-essential amino acid glutathione works as an important antioxidant in animals and plants, fungi and some bacteria, as well as archaea, preventing free radicals and peroxides damage. However, glutathione is not considered an essential nutrient since it can be produced by the body (outside of food) from the amino acids L-cysteine, L-glutamic acid, as well as glycine.

Interestingly, the sulfhydryl (thiol) group of the amino acid cysteine is actually the amino acid responsible for glutathione’s activity in the body. This is why they are connected. Cysteine limits glutathione synthesis in cells since glutathione is rare in foodstuffs.

Remember that in the original study on Alzheimer’s patients and reduced brain plaque formation, it was the connection of increased cysteine and decreased glutathione that may be the link. That study, according to the researchers, “supports the concept that onset of neurodegenerative disease may be delayed or mitigated with use of dietary chemo-preventive agents that protect against beta-amyloid plaque formation and oxidative stress.”

With this in mind, be aware of the fact that chemopreventive foods like Resveratrol in red wine, or garlic, not only may help prevent cancer or improve cardiovascular health, but also are connected to a reduction in Alzheimer’s disease rates due to how it affects amino acids cysteine and glutathione levels. Please check with your doctor before altering your diet.

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19041676

http://nutrition.highwire.org/content/130/2/467S.full

http://naturalsolutionsradio.com/blog/natural-solutions-radio-administrator/amazing-nutrient-reduces-alzheimers-plaque-formation-nine

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2797420/

Food that Contain Cysteine and Methionine

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. When we eat protein foods our bodies break down the proteins into their respective amino acids, and then builds them back up into new proteins that help build muscle and organs and help run other functions in the body. The amino acids cysteine and methionine are needed by the body as well, and can be gotten from certain foods.

Benefits of methionine amino acid

Methionine is a sulfur-containing and proteinogenic amino acid. It provides sulfur for the hair, skin, and nails plus lowers cholesterol and provides protection for the kidneys. It can also prevent liver damage from taking too much acetaminophen (Tylenol).

Methionine can increase acidity in the urine, improve wound healing, and treat various liver disorders. Other uses for methionine include treating copper poisoning, alcoholism, depression, allergies, asthma, side effects from radiation, drug withdrawal, schizophrenia, and even Parkinson’s disease.

Benefits of cysteine amino acid

Cysteine helps protect the liver against long-term effects of alcohol use, specifically from the poison acetaldehyde (a by-product of alcohol metabolism), although it does not reduce drunkenness. Cysteine is also an antioxidant and therefore fights free radicals in the body. It can help with treating diabetes, colitis (an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), plus may treat cardiovascular disease, angina, flu, chronic bronchitis, inflammation, and osteoarthritis.

This sulfur-containing amino acid is synthesized only when methionine is in the body, therefore it is connected to methionine in this way and is why both cysteine and methionine are usually taken together through dietary supplementation. This is why it is important to eat foods that contain both cysteine and methionine so that they can complement one another for proper health benefits.

Foods high in cysteine and methionine

Methionine and cysteine work in tandem in the body, with cysteine particularly being dependent upon the presence of methionine to be produced and work in the body.

Food sources for both methionine and cysteine…

Methionine Cysteine
nuts
eggs
spinach
mushrooms
broccoli
potatoes
fish/tuna
meats*
seeds
almonds
parmesan cheese
brazil nuts
wheat germ
peanuts
chickpea
corn
pintos
lentils
medium-grained brown rice
milk
eggs
red peppers
onions
broccoli
oats
whey protein
meats*
cottage cheese
yogurt
ricotta
garlic
brussels sprouts
granola
wheat germ
sprouted lentils

*chicken, pork, turkey, duck, cured/dried or ground beef, bacon, in particular

Be sure to talk to your doctor before making any extreme or unusual modifications to your diet.

References:

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-42-methionine.aspx?activeingredientid=42&activeingredientname=methionine

http://altmedicine.about.com/od/herbsupplementguide/a/L-Cysteine.htm

http://nutrition.nutricia.com/conditions/sulphite-oxidase-deficiency

Amino Acids for Pregnancy Health

Being a mom does not just happen when you birth a new baby into the world, it starts with pregnancy. A healthy pregnancy means you need proper nutrition, such as vitamins, minerals, as well as things like folic acid, and even amino acids. There are common 22 amino acids that are important for health, and that bring with them their own respective health benefits, but some of these include alanine, tryptophan, tyrosine, cysteine, and even phenylalanine.

It is important for a pregnant mother-to-be to know that amino acids are the building blocks of protein, so this is important for the baby’s development. Proteins like muscles, organs, tissues, plus even the fetal brain, are all dependent upon the proper amount of amino acids in the mother’s body.

There are essential amino acids and non-essential amino acids. “Essential” means that they must be gotten through diet, while non-essential means that the body makes these aminos on its own. Protein foods like meats (chicken, beef, turkey, pork, etc.), plus fish and eggs, provide all 22 amino acids.

If a mother lacks enough amino acids then the developing fetus could suffer. Preeclampsia as well as spina bifida are associated with a lack of amino acids in a pregnant mom.

Lack of amino acids associated with preeclampsia and spina bifida

A study discovered that the amino acid L-arginine (also known simply as arginine) may protect against preeclampsia in pregnant women. About 5-8% of all pregnant women in the United States get preeclampsia, which shows protein levels in urine and can cause dangerously high blood pressure. If not treated it can cause low birth weight, preterm labor, or even death. Around the world 76,000-500,000 infants die because of preeclampsia in pregnancy and hypertension disorders. L-arginine amino acid helps alleviate the conditions associated with preeclampsia. Ask your doctor about how much to take.

In another study the amniotic fluid was tested to check concentrations of amino acids in pregnant women whose babies were already known to have spina bifida. Researchers said that their levels of “alanine, cystathionine, cysteine, phenylalanine, tryptophane, and tyrosine amino acids” were lower than the healthy fetuses from the control group. This suggested that the “loss of amino acids from the fetus through the spinal cord may contribute to the etiology of spina bifida.” Spina bifida, a congenital disorder affecting the spine of the fetus, can come from a lack of the mother having enough folic acid in very early pregnancy. Taking folic acid before conception is essential, as well as afterwards in order to decrease chances for the disorder up to 70%.

Be sure to get enough amino acids in your diet during pregnancy, which means not too much and not too little. This is especially important if you are vegan or vegetarian since most complete amino acids come from animals or animal products. You may want to discuss this with your physician.

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23157048

http://newhope360.com/blog/can-amino-acid-ensure-healthy-pregnancy

Can Increasing Glutathione Improve Symptoms of Schizophrenia?

Can glutathione help schizophrenia? Schizophrenia, a psychological disorder characterized by impairment in a person’s ability to think clearly and manage emotions, is believed to affect an estimated 300,000 Canadians. Worldwide, up to 0.7 per cent of individuals are diagnosed with the mental disorder. Even Vincent Van Gogh, the artist who created the famous “The Starry Night” painting, suffered from schizophrenia.

Symptoms can include paranoia, delusions, disorganized speech and thought process and auditory hallucinations. Individuals living with schizophrenia may encounter significant social or occupational difficulties. It is believed the disorder is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. One of the biological factors may be due to low levels of the tripeptide glutathione.

In a study conducted at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, researchers looked at a precursor of glutathione, N-acetyl-cysteine, to see if it would improve neural synchronicity. Previous studies revealed that irregularities in neural connectivity leads to the symptoms expressed in schizophrenics.

For the double-blind, randomized trial researchers Cristian Carmeli, Maria Knyazeva, Michel Cuenod and Kim Do examined whether treatment with glutathione precursor N-acetyl-cysteine would improve EEG synchronization in schizophrenic patients. Eleven patients with a history of schizophrenia participated in the study.

One group received glutathione precursor N-acetyl-cysteine for two months as part of their treatment and placebo for the second half of treatment. Another group was given the placebo treatment first for two months and then the glutathione precursor N-acetyl-cysteine treatment for the two months after. All participants remained on their usual antipsychotic medication throughout the trial. EEG recordings were done before treatment, at the crossover and at the end of the trial.

The effects of the glutathione precursor in neural synchronicity

At the end of the experiment, the researchers found that glutathione precursor N-acetyl-cysteine significantly increased EEG synchronization, especially in the clusters located over the parieto-temporal, right temporal and right prefrontal lobes. The researchers believe that with treatment of glutathione precursor N-acetyl-cysteine, negative symptoms of schizophrenia will improve along with reduced side-effects of antipsychotics.

Based on these results they’re hopeful that the precursor to glutathione, N-acetyl-cysteine, has huge potential to be used towards treatment for schizophrenia.

Souce:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22383949

Amino Acids: Taurine Essential For Brain Development

An interesting study of human brain cells highlights the crucial role the amino acid taurine has on the development of our brains. This amino acid is vital for optimal development of newborn and infant brains.

Taurine is an important inhibitory neurotransmitter. It’s essential for our cardiovascular function, and the development and function of our central nervous system. Every human needs taurine, adults and babies. Adults metabolize taurine from cysteine, using vitamin B6. High levels of B6 are found in shellfish, such as oysters and clams. It’s also present in meat and fish proteins.

Newborns get their taurine from breast milk, and taurine has been added to many infant formulas.

The role of taurine for optimal brain development has been studied in animal trials. Taurine increases the proliferation of neural stem cells in embryonic and adult rodent brains. But what about humans?

Researchers Hernández-Benítez R, Vangipuram SD, et al, from the Instituto de Fisiología Celular, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City, Mexico, developed a study of taurine’s effect on cell numbers in human neural precursor cells, which are stem cells.

Neural precursor cells can become neurons (nerve cells), and can also become the two other main cell types in the nervous system. They can also be cultured in the laboratory, so have great potential for a variety of transplant treatments.

Effect of Taurine on human brain development

The researchers in this human cell study used neural precursor cells from three fetal brains (14-15 weeks of gestation). The cells were cultured, and then tested with taurine. After four days of culture, taurine induced an impressive increase of neural precursor cells: an increase of up to 188%. Taurine also dramatically increased the percentage of neurons formed: up to 480% in the best case.

These results show the positive effect taurine has on the formation and development of the brain.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23466467

Anti-Inflammatory Effect of Amino Acids Cysteine, Glycine and Histidine

Inflammation in the body is like fire in the veins! But can inflammation be “cooled off” by the amino acids cysteine, glycine, and histidine? Inflammation is characterized as the bodily response of vascular tissues to unsafe stimuli. 

Such stimuli may include pathogens, irritants or damaged cells. Symptoms can vary in cases of inflammation, but the most common signs are redness, heat, swelling, pain, and loss of function in the affected area.

Because inflammation is a discomfort that affects a majority of the population at one time or another, researchers at Yamaguchi University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan set out to examine the anti-inflammatory effects of the amino acids cysteine, glycine and histidine.

Researchers S. Hasegawa, et al., report that nuclear factor-kappa B is a system that regulates endothelial activation. They explain that nuclear factor-kappa B is induced by tumor necrosis factor-alpha in vascular endothelial cells, and it is this process that can lead to inflammation and disorders such as atherosclerosis.

The researchers wanted to test the anti-inflammatory effects in coronary endothelial cells since results from previous studies ended inconclusively. They hypothesize that amino acids cysteine, glycine and histidine would produce inhibitory effects on nuclear factor-kappa B activation in human coronary arterial endothelial cells.

The effect of amino acids cysteine, glycine and histidine on inflammation in endothelial cells

For the study Hasegawa et al. took human coronary arterial endothelial cell cultures and treated them with either alanine, cysteine, glycine and histidine amino acids. They stimulated the cultures with 2 ng/mL of tumour necrosis factor-alpha before taking out nuclear extracts to determine their concentrations of proteins and nuclear factor-kappa B.

They found that without treatment, the cultures showed significant activation of nuclear factor-kappa B. But with pretreatment of cysteine, glycine and histidine, nuclear factor-kappa B activation was inhibited significantly in the coronary endothelial cells. Alanine did not have an effect on the activation, demonstrating no anti-inflammatory properties.

Overall, cysteine showed the most inhibiting effects out of the tested amino acids at any concentration. They also found that the amino acids inhibited E-selectin expression, a cell adhesion molecule that plays an important role in inflammation.

Based on these results, the researchers conclude that cysteine, glycine and histidine can help reduce inflammation to the endothelial cells.

Source:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22236003

L-methionine Supplements for HIV or Immune-Compromised Patients

A study from South Africa has investigated the effects of L-methionine supplements for HIV or immune-compromised patients, with positive results.

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a major global public health issue. Over 25 million people have died from HIV in the past 30 years, and more people are being diagnosed every day. According to the World Health Organization, there were about 34 million people living with HIV in 2011. HIV, in a matter of a decade, can develop into AIDS, which is the most advanced form of HIV.

HIV causes the immune system to fail, which means life-threatening infections and cancers can develop. The virus affects T cells in the immune system, leading to declines in the amounts of these vital cells.  HIV specifically affects CD4 T cells, white blood cells which are an essential part of the immune system.  If untreated, HIV causes the amount of CD4 cells to drop to a critically low level. Immunity is lost.

There’s no cure for HIV, but the virus can be treated with antiretroviral drugs. These are widely available in North America, but in Africa, where most of the new cases are diagnosed, fewer people have access. Research into boosting the immune system, therefore, is a growing field.

R Van Brummelen and D du Toit, researchers with the Tshwane University of Technology, Gezina, South Africa, developed a clinical study to test L-L-methionine supplements. Would the amino acid improve the immune system of HIV infected patients?

L-methionine, one of the sulfur-containing amino acids, is important for many bodily functions.  It converts to L-cysteine in the body, when it becomes a vital antioxidant, scavenging damaging free radicals and boosting the immune system.

L-methionine tested as immune supportive supplement

The researchers designed a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. HIV patients were given either L-methionine supplements, or a placebo. Treatments continued for six months, then the patients were tested.

Results were statistically significant. In the L-methionine supplement group, CD4 counts showed a decreased level of decline, meaning the HIV was not destroying as many of these crucial cells in the immune system.

Additionally, there were no serious side effects from the treatment.

The researchers concluded that L-methionine supports the immune system, and can play a role in the treatment of immune-compromised patients.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17006600

Homocysteine, Cysteine, and Colorectal Cancer

Researchers investigated the link between levels of plasma homocysteine and colorectal cancer in postmenopausal women. Will the results shed light on the risk of developing this cancer?

Colorectal cancer—also known as bowel cancer–is a cancer of the colon (large intestine) or rectum. It’s the third most common cancer diagnosed in men and women, and the second leading cause of cancer-related death when statistics for both sexes are combined.

Improved screening techniques have led to the death rate dropping for colorectal cancer. The polyps which form in the early stages can be removed before they develop into cancers, and early detection also means much better prognosis. All cancers are easier to treat when they are detected early.

But better understanding of colorectal cancer is an important topic of research. And new screening techniques could help diagnose the disease even earlier.

JW Miller, SA Beresford, et al, researchers at the Department of Medical Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of California, USA, developed a study to assess the links between the amino acids homocysteine, cysteine, and the incidence of colorectal cancer in postmenopausal women.

Homocysteine is a non-protein amino acid. It’s similar in formula to cysteine, though homocysteine is biosynthesized in our bodies, from the amino acid methionine. It can also be converted into methionine or cysteine with the aid of B-vitamins. We also get cysteine from food, especially high-protein foods like meat, cheese, and eggs.

High levels of homocysteine have been linked to cardiovascular disease. Would they also be linked to colorectal cancer?

Results of homocysteine, cysteine, and colorectal cancer trial

The trial found some significant results. High levels of homocysteine were associated with proximal colon tumors, though not distal or rectal tumors.

They concluded that high plasma homocysteine levels are associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer. High levels of cysteine indicate a decreased risk.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23426034