Trehalose as a "chemical chaperone": fact and fantasy

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2007;594:143-58. doi: 10.1007/978-0-387-39975-1_13.


Trehalose is a disaccharide of glucose that is found at high concentrations in a wide variety of organisms that naturally survive drying in nature. Many years ago we reported that this molecule has the remarkable ability to stabilize membranes and proteins in the dry state. A mechanism for the stabilization rapidly emerged, and it was sufficiently attractive that a myth grew up about trehalose as a universal protectant and chemical chaperone. Many of the claims in this regard can be explained by what is now known about the physical properties of this interesting sugar. It is emerging that these properties may make it unusually useful in stabilizing intact cells in the dry state.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Freeze Drying
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism
  • Membrane Microdomains
  • Molecular Chaperones / metabolism*
  • Plants / metabolism
  • Trehalose / metabolism*


  • Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Molecular Chaperones
  • Trehalose