Purpose of review: Glycine, a non-essential amino acid, has been found to protect against oxidative stress in several pathological situations, and it is required for the biosynthesis of structural proteins such as elastin. As hypertension is a disease in which free radicals and large vessel elasticity are involved, this article will examine the possible mechanisms by which glycine may protect against high blood pressure.
Recent findings: The addition of glycine to the diet reduces high blood pressure in a rat model of the metabolic syndrome. Also, glycine supplemented to the low protein diet of rat dams during pregnancy has a beneficial effect on blood pressure in their offspring. The mechanism by which glycine decreases high blood pressure can be attributed to its participation in the reduction of the generation of free radicals, increasing the availability of nitric oxide. In addition, as glycine is required for a number of critical metabolic pathways, such as the synthesis of the structural proteins collagen and elastin, the perturbation of these leads to impaired elastin formation in the aorta. This involves changes in the aorta's elastic properties, which would contribute to the development of hypertension.
Summary: The use of glycine to lower high blood pressure could have a significant clinical impact in patients with the metabolic syndrome and with limited resources. On the other hand, more studies are needed to explore the beneficial effect of glycine in other models of hypertension and to investigate possible side-effects of treatment with glycine.