Glycine Abstracts 1

© 2012

Dietary glycine inhibits angiogenesis during wound healing and tumor growth

            (Amin, Li et al. 2003) Download

In this study we investigated the effects of glycine on angiogenesis during embryogenesis, wound healing and tumor growth. In chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) assay, glycine (100 microM) inhibited angiogenesis by more than 50%. We studied dietary glycine's effect on fibrin induced wound healing response in a novel (Fibrin Z-chamber) assay. Fibrin within the chamber triggers the healing cascade leading to formation of granulation tissue (GT) rich in blood vessels and stroma. GT was reduced by more than 30% (p < 0.0001) in dietary Glycine groups as compared to control. We found that microvessel density dropped significantly (15%, p < 0.0003) with dietary glycine whereas the other components of GT were unaffected. We evaluated tumor growth delay utilizing Tumor Z-Chamber (fibrin with R3230 mammary adenocarcinoma cells) since tumors take advantage of angiogenesis and matrix formation. We observed that tumor growth decreased by 15% (p < 0.03) and tumor microvessel density dropped by 20% (p < 0.03) with dietary glycine compared to controls. We found that iNOS protein levels were decreased significantly in both GT (24%-57%) and tumor tissue (19-75%). In conclusion, we found that dietary glycine is a potent anti-angiogenic agent that can reduce wound healing and tumor growth through reduction of iNOS expression.

The glycine deportation system and its pharmacological consequences

            (Beyoglu and Idle 2012) Download

The glycine deportation system is an essential component of glycine catabolism in man whereby 400 to 800mg glycine per day are deported into urine as hippuric acid. The molecular escort for this deportation is benzoic acid, which derives from the diet and from gut microbiota metabolism of dietary precursors. Three components of this system, involving hepatic and renal metabolism, and renal active tubular secretion help regulate systemic and central nervous system levels of glycine. When glycine levels are pathologically high, as in congenital nonketotic hyperglycinemia, the glycine deportation system can be upregulated with pharmacological doses of benzoic acid to assist in normalization of glycine homeostasis. In congenital urea cycle enzymopathies, similar activation of the glycine deportation system with benzoic acid is useful for the excretion of excess nitrogen in the form of glycine. Drugs which can substitute for benzoic acid as substrates for the glycine deportation system have adverse reactions that may involve perturbations of glycine homeostasis. The cancer chemotherapeutic agent ifosfamide has an unacceptably high incidence of encephalopathy. This would appear to arise as a result of the production of toxic aldehyde metabolites which deplete ATP production and sequester NADH in the mitochondrial matrix, thereby inhibiting the glycine deportation system and causing de novo glycine synthesis by the glycine cleavage system. We hypothesize that this would result in hyperglycinemia and encephalopathy. This understanding may lead to novel prophylactic strategies for ifosfamide encephalopathy. Thus, the glycine deportation system plays multiple key roles in physiological and neurotoxicological processes involving glycine.

Palliative treatment of benign prostatic hypertrophy; value of glycine-alanine-glutamic acid combination

            (Feinblatt and Gant 1958) Download

Glycine inhibits melanogenesis in vitro and causes hypopigmentation in vivo

         (Ishikawa, Kawase et al. 2007) Download

The simplest amino acid, glycine, is important in protein composition and plays a significant role in numerous physiological events in mammals. Despite the inhibitory effect of glycine on spontaneous melanogenesis in B16F0 melanoma cells, the details of the underlying mechanisms remain unknown. The present study was conducted to investigate the further effects and the mechanisms of inhibitory effect of glycine on melanogenesis using B16F0 melanoma cells and hair follicle melanogenesis in C57BL/6J mice. Treatment with glycine (1-16 mM) for 72 h inhibited alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH)-induced melanogenesis in a concentration-dependent manner without any effects on cell proliferation in B16F0 melanoma cells. Treatment with kojic acid (2.5 mM) for 72 h also inhibited alpha-MSH-induced melanogenesis in B16F0 melanoma cells. The highest dose of glycine inhibited the alpha-MSH-induced increment of tyrosinase protein levels in B16F0 melanoma cells. In hair follicle melanogenesis in C57BL/6J mice, treatment with glycine (1250 or 2500 mg/kg, i.p.) for 5 d prevented the decrement of L* and C* values and inhibited the increment of tyrosinase protein levels and melanin content within the skin. Treatment with hydroquinone (100 mg/kg, i.p.) for 5 d had a similar hypopigmenting effect to that of high dose glycine. These results suggest that glycine has an inhibitory effect on melanogenesis that is mediated by down-regulation of tyrosinase protein levels, leading to a hypopigmenting effect in C57BL/6J mice.

Metabolite profiling identifies a key role for glycine in rapid cancer cell proliferation

         (Jain, Nilsson et al. 2012) Download

Metabolic reprogramming has been proposed to be a hallmark of cancer, yet a systematic characterization of the metabolic pathways active in transformed cells is currently lacking. Using mass spectrometry, we measured the consumption and release (CORE) profiles of 219 metabolites from media across the NCI-60 cancer cell lines, and integrated these data with a preexisting atlas of gene expression. This analysis identified glycine consumption and expression of the mitochondrial glycine biosynthetic pathway as strongly correlated with rates of proliferation across cancer cells. Antagonizing glycine uptake and its mitochondrial biosynthesis preferentially impaired rapidly proliferating cells. Moreover, higher expression of this pathway was associated with greater mortality in breast cancer patients. Increased reliance on glycine may represent a metabolic vulnerability for selectively targeting rapid cancer cell proliferation.

The biosynthesis of free glycine and serine by tumors

         (Kit 1955) Download

Active and higher intracellular uptake of 5-aminolevulinic acid in tumors may be inhibited by glycine

         (Langer, Abels et al. 1999) Download

Topical 5-aminolevulinic acid is used for the fluorescence-based diagnosis and photodynamic treatment of superficial precancerous and cancerous lesions of the skin. Thus, we investigated the kinetics of 5-aminolevulinic acid-induced fluorescence and the mechanisms responsible for the selective formation of porphyrins in tumors in vivo. Using amelanotic melanomas (A-Mel-3) grown in dorsal skinfold chambers of Syrian golden hamsters fluorescence kinetics were measured up to 24 h after topical application of 5-aminolevulinic acid (1%, 3%, or 10%) for 1 h, 4 h, or 8 h by intravital microscopy (n = 54). Maximal fluorescence intensity in tumors after 1 h application (3% 5-aminolevulinic acid) occurred 150 min and after 4 h application (3% 5-aminolevulinic acid) directly thereafter. Increasing either concentration of 5-aminolevulinic acid or application time did not yield a higher fluorescence intensity. The selectivity of the fluorescence in tumors decreased with increasing application time. Fluorescence spectra indicated the formation of protoporphyrin IX (3% 5-aminolevulinic acid, 4 h; n = 3). The simultaneous application of 5-aminolevulinic acid (3%, 4 h) and glycine (20 microM or 200 microM; n = 10) reduced fluorescence in tumor and surrounding host tissue significantly. In contrast, neither decreasing iron concentration by desferrioxamine (1% and 3%; n = 10) nor inducing tetrapyrrole accumulation using 1, 10-phenanthroline (7.5 mM; n = 5) increased fluorescence in tumors. The saturation and faster increase of fluorescence in the tumor together with a reduction of fluorescence by the application of glycine suggests an active and higher intracellular uptake of 5-aminolevulinic acid in tumor as compared with the surrounding tissue. Shorter application (1 h) yields a better contrast between tumor and surrounding tissue for fluorescence diagnosis. The additional topical application of modifiers of the heme biosynthesis, desferrioxamine or 1,10-phenanthroline, however, is unlikely to enhance the efficacy of topical 5-aminolevulinic acid-photodynamic therapy at least in our model.

Dietary glycine does not affect physiological angiogenesis and reproductive function, but inhibits apoptosis in endometrial and ovarian tissue by down-regulation of nuclear factor-kappaB

            (Laschke, Schwender et al. 2008) Download

OBJECTIVE: To study the effect of dietary glycine on female reproductive organs. DESIGN: Intravital microscopic, histologic, and biomolecular study. SETTING: Institute for Clinical & Experimental Surgery, University of Saarland. ANIMAL(S): Syrian golden hamsters. INTERVENTION(S): Endometrial fragments and ovarian follicles were transplanted into dorsal skinfold chambers of Syrian golden hamsters, which received glycine diet or standard pellet food (control). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S): Angiogenesis of the grafts was analyzed during 14 days using intravital fluorescence microscopy. Protein expression of proliferating cell nuclear antigen, cleaved caspase-3, p53, and nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-kappaB) in the eutopic endometrium and ovary was measured by Western blot analysis. Fertility and reproductive function of mating hamsters was assessed. RESULT(S): Dietary glycine did not affect angiogenesis of endometrial and ovarian grafts, as indicated by a vascularized area, microvessel density, and blood perfusion compared with that of grafts in control animals. In addition, glycine-treated hamsters presented with normal reproductive function. Interestingly, glycine inhibited apoptosis in endometrial and ovarian tissue by down-regulation of NF-kappaB expression. CONCLUSION(S): Our novel data indicate that glycine can be used as a therapeutic agent for inflammatory or angiogenic disorders without inducing serious side effects in the female reproductive tract.

Serum amino acid profiles and their alterations in colorectal cancer

         (Leichtle, Nuoffer et al. 2012) Download

Mass spectrometry-based serum metabolic profiling is a promising tool to analyse complex cancer associated metabolic alterations, which may broaden our pathophysiological understanding of the disease and may function as a source of new cancer-associated biomarkers. Highly standardized serum samples of patients suffering from colon cancer (n = 59) and controls (n = 58) were collected at the University Hospital Leipzig. We based our investigations on amino acid screening profiles using electrospray tandem-mass spectrometry. Metabolic profiles were evaluated using the Analyst 1.4.2 software. General, comparative and equivalence statistics were performed by R 2.12.2. 11 out of 26 serum amino acid concentrations were significantly different between colorectal cancer patients and healthy controls. We found a model including CEA, glycine, and tyrosine as best discriminating and superior to CEA alone with an AUROC of 0.878 (95% CI 0.815-0.941). Our serum metabolic profiling in colon cancer revealed multiple significant disease-associated alterations in the amino acid profile with promising diagnostic power. Further large-scale studies are necessary to elucidate the potential of our model also to discriminate between cancer and potential differential diagnoses. In conclusion, serum glycine and tyrosine in combination with CEA are superior to CEA for the discrimination between colorectal cancer patients and controls.

A weak link in metabolism: the metabolic capacity for glycine biosynthesis does not satisfy the need for collagen synthesis

            (Melendez-Hevia, De Paz-Lugo et al. 2009) Download

In a previous paper, we pointed out that the capability to synthesize glycine from serine is constrained by the stoichiometry of the glycine hydroxymethyltransferase reaction, which limits the amount of glycine produced to be no more than equimolar with the amount of C 1 units produced. This constraint predicts a shortage of available glycine if there are no adequate compensating processes. Here, we test this prediction by comparing all reported fl uxes for the production and consumption of glycine in a human adult. Detailed assessment of all possible sources of glycine shows that synthesis from serine accounts for more than 85% of the total, and that the amount of glycine available from synthesis, about 3 g/day, together with that available from the diet, in the range 1.5-3.0 g/day, may fall significantly short of the amount needed for all metabolic uses, including collagen synthesis by about 10 g per day for a 70 kg human. This result supports earlier suggestions in the literature that glycine is a semi-essential amino acid and that it should be taken as a nutritional supplement to guarantee a healthy metabolism.

Dietary glycine inhibits the growth of B16 melanoma tumors in mice

         (Rose, Madren et al. 1999) Download

Dietary glycine inhibited hepatocyte proliferation in response to the carcinogen WY-14,643. Since increased cell replication is associated with hepatic cancer caused by WY-14,643, glycine may have anti-cancer properties. Therefore, these experiments were designed to test the hypothesis that dietary glycine would inhibit the growth of tumors arising from B16 melanoma cells implanted subcutaneously in mice. C57BL/6 mice were fed diet supplemented with 5% glycine and 15% casein or control diet (20% casein) for 3 days prior to subcutaneous implantation of B16 tumor cells. Tumor volume was estimated from tumor diameter for 14 days. Tumors were excised, weighed and sectioned for histology post-mortem. B16 cells and endothelial cells were cultured in vitro to assess effects of glycine on cell growth. Statistical tests were two-sided and a P-value of 0.05 was defined as a significant difference between groups. Weight gain did not differ between mice fed control and glycine-containing diets. B16 tumors grew rapidly in mice fed control diet; however, in mice fed glycine diet, tumor size was 50-75% less. At the time of death, tumors from glycine-fed mice weighed nearly 65% less than tumors from mice fed control diet (P < 0.05). Glycine (0.01-10 mM) did not effect growth rates of B16 cells in vitro. Moreover, tumor volume and mitotic index of B16 tumors in vivo did not differ 2 days after implantation when tumors were small enough to be independent of vascularization. After 14 days, tumors from mice fed dietary glycine had 70% fewer arteries (P < 0.05). Furthermore, glycine (0.01-10 mM) inhibited the growth of endothelial cells in vitro in a dose-dependent manner (P < 0.05; IC50 = 0.05 mM). These data support the hypothesis that dietary glycine prevents tumor growth in vivo by inhibiting angiogenesis through mechanisms involving inhibition of endothelial cell proliferation.

Dietary glycine prevents the development of liver tumors caused by the peroxisome proliferator WY-14,643

            (Rose, Cattley et al. 1999) Download

Previous studies demonstrated that dietary glycine prevents elevated rates of cell proliferation following treatment with the peroxisome proliferator and liver carcinogen WY-14,643. Since increased cell replication is associated with the development of hepatic cancer caused by peroxisome proliferators, glycine may have anti-cancer properties. Therefore, experiments were designed to test the hypothesis that dietary glycine would inhibit the hepatocarcinogenic effect of WY-14,643. Male F344 rats were fed four different NIH 07-based diets: 5% glycine; 5% valine for nitrogen balance (control); 0.1% WY-14,643 + 5% valine (WY-14,643); 0.1% WY-14,643 + 5% glycine (WY-14,643 + glycine). Food consumption did not differ among the groups, but WY-14,643-fed rats weighed 10-25% less than expected based on previous studies. Serum glycine levels were elevated 4-5-fold by glycine-containing diets; however, the 10-fold increase in peroxisomal enzyme activity caused by WY-14,643 was unaffected by the addition of 5% glycine to the diet. After 22 weeks, livers from rats fed WY-14,643 had a similar incidence and multiplicity of proliferative lesions (foci and adenomas) to those fed WY-14,643 + glycine. Moreover, cell proliferation in the surrounding 'normal' parenchyma (labeling index approximately 4%) and foci (labeling index approximately 50%) did not differ between WY-14,643 and WY-14,643 + glycine-fed rats. However, after 51 weeks of dietary exposure to WY-14,643, glycine prevented formation of small (0-5 mm diameter) tumors by 23% and inhibited the development of medium size (5-10 mm) tumors by 64%. Furthermore, glycine prevented the formation of the largest tumors (>10 mm) by nearly 80%. Thus, glycine did not inhibit early foci formation; however, it significantly decreased their ability to progress to tumors. Moreover, the inhibitory effect of glycine was greater with increasing tumor size. These studies demonstrate that dietary glycine prevents the development of hepatic tumors caused by the peroxisome proliferator WY-14,643 consistent with the idea that it may be an effective chemopreventive agent.

Manganese Alters Rat Brain Amino Acids Levels

         (Santos, Batoreu et al. 2012) Download

Manganese (Mn) is an essential element and it acts as a cofactor for a number of enzymatic reactions, including those involved in amino acid, lipid, protein, and carbohydrate metabolism. Excessive exposure to Mn can lead to poisoning, characterized by psychiatric disturbances and an extrapyramidal disorder. Mn-induced neuronal degeneration is associated with alterations in amino acids metabolism. In the present study, we analyzed whole rat brain amino acid content subsequent to four or eight intraperitoneal injections, with 25 mg MnCl(2)/kg/day, at 48-h intervals. We noted a significant increase in glycine brain levels after four or eight Mn injections (p < 0.05 and p < 0.01, respectively) and arginine also after four or eight injections (p < 0.001). Significant increases were also noted in brain proline (p < 0.01), cysteine (p < 0.05), phenylalanine (p < 0.01), and tyrosine (p < 0.01) levels after eight Mn injections vs. the control group. These findings suggest that Mn-induced alterations in amino acid levels secondary to Mn affect the neurochemical milieu.

Metabolism: craving for glycine

            (Villanueva 2012) Download

Glycine: a new anti-inflammatory immunonutrient

            (Wheeler, Ikejema et al. 1999) Download

The mechanism of the immunosuppressive effects of glycine and its pathophysiological applications are discussed in this review. Glycine has been well characterized in spinal cord as an inhibitory neurotransmitter which activates a glycine-gated chloride channel (GlyR) expressed in postsynaptic membranes. Activation of the channel allows the influx of chloride, preventing depolarization of the plasma membrane and the potentiation of excitatory signals along the axon. Glycine has recently been shown to have similar inhibitory effects on several white blood cells, including hepatic and alveolar macrophages, neutrophils, and lymphocytes. Pharmacological analysis using a GlyR antagonist strychnine, chloride-free buffer, and radiolabeled chloride has provided convincing evidence to support the hypothesis that many white blood cells contain a glycine-gated chloride channel with properties similar to the spinal cord GlyR. Molecular analysis using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and Western blotting has identified the mRNA and protein for the beta subunit of the GlyR in total RNA and purified membrane protein from rat Kupffer cells. Dietary glycine is protective in rat models against endotoxemia, liver ischemia-reperfusion, and liver transplantation, most likely by inactivating the Kupffer cell via this newly identified glycine-gated chloride channel. Glycine also prevents the growth of B 16 melanomas cell in vivo. Moreover, dietary glycine is protective in the kidney against cyclosporin A toxicity and ischemia-reperfusion injury. Glycine may be useful clinically for the treatment of sepsis, adult respiratory distress syndrome, arthritis, and other diseases with an inflammatory component.

Arginine metabolism and nutrition in growth, health and disease

            (Wu, Bazer et al. 2009) Download

L-Arginine (Arg) is synthesised from glutamine, glutamate, and proline via the intestinal-renal axis in humans and most other mammals (including pigs, sheep and rats). Arg degradation occurs via multiple pathways that are initiated by arginase, nitric-oxide synthase, Arg:glycine amidinotransferase, and Arg decarboxylase. These pathways produce nitric oxide, polyamines, proline, glutamate, creatine, and agmatine with each having enormous biological importance. Arg is also required for the detoxification of ammonia, which is an extremely toxic substance for the central nervous system. There is compelling evidence that Arg regulates interorgan metabolism of energy substrates and the function of multiple organs. The results of both experimental and clinical studies indicate that Arg is a nutritionally essential amino acid (AA) for spermatogenesis, embryonic survival, fetal and neonatal growth, as well as maintenance of vascular tone and hemodynamics. Moreover, a growing body of evidence clearly indicates that dietary supplementation or intravenous administration of Arg is beneficial in improving reproductive, cardiovascular, pulmonary, renal, gastrointestinal, liver and immune functions, as well as facilitating wound healing, enhancing insulin sensitivity, and maintaining tissue integrity. Additionally, Arg or L-citrulline may provide novel and effective therapies for obesity, diabetes, and the metabolic syndrome. The effect of Arg in treating many developmental and health problems is unique among AAs, and offers great promise for improved health and wellbeing of humans and animals.

Glycine as a potent anti-angiogenic nutrient for tumor growth

         (Yamashina, Ikejima et al. 2007) Download

Accumulating lines of evidence suggest a possibility that glycine is useful as an immuno-modulating amino acid. Glycine most likely prevents the lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced elevation of intracellular Ca(2+) concentration in Kupffer cells, thereby minimizing LPS receptor signaling and cytokine production. Moreover, it was reported that dietary glycine inhibits the growth of tumors. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) plays a critical role in cancer progression by promoting new blood vessel formation. Activation of VEGF receptor has been shown to result in activation of phospholipase C-gamma and increases in intracellular Ca(2+) concentration. The VEGF-induced cell proliferation is dependent on intracellular Ca(2+) concentration. The effects of glycine on VEGF-induced increases in intracellular Ca(2+) concentration in endothelial cell line (CPA) were studied. The VEGF increased intracellular Ca(2+) concentration rapidly, but glycine blunted increases in intracellular Ca(2+) concentration due to VEGF. Further, the inhibitory effects of glycine were prevented by low concentrations of strychnine (1 micromol/L) or incubation with chloride-free buffer. Moreover, glycine increased influx of radiolabeled chloride into CPA cells approximately 10-fold. Furthermore, mRNA 92% identical to the beta-subunit of the glycine-gated chloride channel from spinal cord was identified in endothelial cells using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. Finally, glycine significantly diminished serum-stimulated proliferation and migration of endothelial cells. These data indicate that the inhibitory effect of glycine on growth and migration of endothelial cells is due to activation of a glycine-gated chloride channel. This hyperpolarizes the cell membrane and blocks influx of Ca(2+), thereby minimizing growth factor-mediated signaling. Therefore, glycine can be used not only for treatment of inflammation, but also for chemoprevention and treatment of carcinoma.


Amin, K., J. Li, et al. (2003). "Dietary glycine inhibits angiogenesis during wound healing and tumor growth." Cancer Biol Ther 2(2): 173-8.

Beyoglu, D. and J. R. Idle (2012). "The glycine deportation system and its pharmacological consequences." Pharmacol Ther 135(2): 151-67.

Feinblatt, H. M. and J. C. Gant (1958). "Palliative treatment of benign prostatic hypertrophy; value of glycine-alanine-glutamic acid combination." J Maine Med Assoc 49(3): 99-101 passim.

Ishikawa, M., I. Kawase, et al. (2007). "Glycine inhibits melanogenesis in vitro and causes hypopigmentation in vivo." Biol Pharm Bull 30(11): 2031-6.

Jain, M., R. Nilsson, et al. (2012). "Metabolite profiling identifies a key role for glycine in rapid cancer cell proliferation." Science 336(6084): 1040-4.

Kit, S. (1955). "The biosynthesis of free glycine and serine by tumors." Cancer Res 15(11): 715-8.

Langer, S., C. Abels, et al. (1999). "Active and higher intracellular uptake of 5-aminolevulinic acid in tumors may be inhibited by glycine." J Invest Dermatol 112(5): 723-8.

Laschke, M. W., C. Schwender, et al. (2008). "Dietary glycine does not affect physiological angiogenesis and reproductive function, but inhibits apoptosis in endometrial and ovarian tissue by down-regulation of nuclear factor-kappaB." Fertil Steril 90(4 Suppl): 1460-9.

Leichtle, A. B., J. M. Nuoffer, et al. (2012). "Serum amino acid profiles and their alterations in colorectal cancer." Metabolomics 8(4): 643-653.

Melendez-Hevia, E., P. De Paz-Lugo, et al. (2009). "A weak link in metabolism: the metabolic capacity for glycine biosynthesis does not satisfy the need for collagen synthesis." J Biosci 34(6): 853-72.

Rose, M. L., R. C. Cattley, et al. (1999). "Dietary glycine prevents the development of liver tumors caused by the peroxisome proliferator WY-14,643." Carcinogenesis 20(11): 2075-81.

Rose, M. L., J. Madren, et al. (1999). "Dietary glycine inhibits the growth of B16 melanoma tumors in mice." Carcinogenesis 20(5): 793-8.

Santos, D., M. C. Batoreu, et al. (2012). "Manganese Alters Rat Brain Amino Acids Levels." Biol Trace Elem Res.

Villanueva, M. T. (2012). "Metabolism: craving for glycine." Nat Rev Clin Oncol 9(8): 430.

Wheeler, M. D., K. Ikejema, et al. (1999). "Glycine: a new anti-inflammatory immunonutrient." Cell Mol Life Sci 56(9-10): 843-56.

Wu, G., F. W. Bazer, et al. (2009). "Arginine metabolism and nutrition in growth, health and disease." Amino Acids 37(1): 153-68.

Yamashina, S., K. Ikejima, et al. (2007). "Glycine as a potent anti-angiogenic nutrient for tumor growth." J Gastroenterol Hepatol 22 Suppl 1: S62-4.