Effects of the dietary supplements, activated charcoal and copper chlorophyllin, on urinary excretion of trimethylamine in Japanese trimethylaminuria patients

Life Sci. 2004 Apr 16;74(22):2739-47. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2003.10.022.


Trimethylaminuria (TMAU) is a metabolic disorder characterized by the inability to oxidize and convert dietary-derived trimethylamine (TMA) to trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO). This disorder has been relatively well-documented in European and North American populations, but no reports have appeared regarding patients in Japan. We identified seven Japanese individuals that showed a low metabolic capacity to convert TMA to its odorless metabolite, TMAO. The metabolic capacity, as defined by the concentration of TMAO excreted in the urine divided by TMA concentration plus TMAO concentration, in these seven individuals ranged from 70 to 90%. In contrast, there were no healthy controls examined with less than 95% of the metabolic capacity to convert TMA to TMAO. The intake of dietary charcoal (total 1.5 g charcoal per day for 10 days) reduced the urinary free TMA concentration and increased the concentration of TMAO to normal values during charcoal administration. Copper chlorophyllin (total 180 mg per day for 3 weeks) was also effective at reducing free urinary TMA concentration and increasing TMAO to those of concentrations present in normal individuals. In the TMAU subjects examined, the effects of copper chlorophyllin appeared to last longer (i.e., several weeks) than those observed for activated charcoal. The results suggest that the daily intake of charcoal and/or copper chlorophyllin may be of significant use in improving the quality of life of individuals suffering from TMAU.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Charcoal / administration & dosage*
  • Chlorophyllides / administration & dosage*
  • Diet
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Metabolism, Inborn Errors / diet therapy*
  • Methylamines / urine*
  • Middle Aged
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Chlorophyllides
  • Methylamines
  • Charcoal
  • chlorophyllin
  • trimethyloxamine
  • trimethylamine