Maillard reaction products in tissue proteins: new products and new perspectives

Amino Acids. 2003 Dec;25(3-4):275-81. doi: 10.1007/s00726-003-0017-9. Epub 2003 Jul 29.


The chemical modification of protein by nonenzymatic browning or Maillard reactions increases with age and in disease. Maillard products are formed by reactions of both carbohydrate- and lipid-derived intermediates with proteins, leading to formation of advanced glycation and lipoxidation end-products (AGE/ALEs). These modifications and other oxidative modifications of amino acids increase together in proteins and are indicators of tissue aging and pathology. In this review, we describe the major pathways and characteristic products of chemical modification of proteins by carbohydrates and lipids during the Maillard reactions and identify major intersections between these pathways. We also describe a new class of intracellular sulfhydryl modifications, Cys-AGE/ALEs, that may play an important role in regulatory biology and represent a primitive link between nonenzymatic and enzymatic chemistry in biological systems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism
  • Carbohydrates / chemistry*
  • Glucose / chemistry
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Glycation End Products, Advanced / chemistry
  • Glycation End Products, Advanced / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Maillard Reaction*
  • Models, Chemical
  • Molecular Structure
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Proteins / metabolism


  • Carbohydrates
  • Glycation End Products, Advanced
  • Proteins
  • Glucose