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Review
. 2013 Sep;45(3):463-77.
doi: 10.1007/s00726-013-1493-1. Epub 2013 Apr 25.

Glycine Metabolism in Animals and Humans: Implications for Nutrition and Health

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Review

Glycine Metabolism in Animals and Humans: Implications for Nutrition and Health

Weiwei Wang et al. Amino Acids. .

Abstract

Glycine is a major amino acid in mammals and other animals. It is synthesized from serine, threonine, choline, and hydroxyproline via inter-organ metabolism involving primarily the liver and kidneys. Under normal feeding conditions, glycine is not adequately synthesized in birds or in other animals, particularly in a diseased state. Glycine degradation occurs through three pathways: the glycine cleavage system (GCS), serine hydroxymethyltransferase, and conversion to glyoxylate by peroxisomal D-amino acid oxidase. Among these pathways, GCS is the major enzyme to initiate glycine degradation to form ammonia and CO2 in animals. In addition, glycine is utilized for the biosynthesis of glutathione, heme, creatine, nucleic acids, and uric acid. Furthermore, glycine is a significant component of bile acids secreted into the lumen of the small intestine that is necessary for the digestion of dietary fat and the absorption of long-chain fatty acids. Glycine plays an important role in metabolic regulation, anti-oxidative reactions, and neurological function. Thus, this nutrient has been used to: (1) prevent tissue injury; (2) enhance anti-oxidative capacity; (3) promote protein synthesis and wound healing; (4) improve immunity; and (5) treat metabolic disorders in obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, ischemia-reperfusion injuries, cancers, and various inflammatory diseases. These multiple beneficial effects of glycine, coupled with its insufficient de novo synthesis, support the notion that it is a conditionally essential and also a functional amino acid for mammals (including pigs and humans).

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