L-Serine: a Naturally-Occurring Amino Acid with Therapeutic Potential

Neurotox Res. 2018 Jan;33(1):213-221. doi: 10.1007/s12640-017-9814-x. Epub 2017 Sep 19.


In human neuroblastoma cell cultures, non-human primates and human beings, L-serine is neuroprotective, acting through a variety of biochemical and molecular mechanisms. Although L-serine is generally classified as a non-essential amino acid, it is probably more appropriate to term it as a "conditional non-essential amino acid" since, under certain circumstances, vertebrates cannot synthesize it in sufficient quantities to meet necessary cellular demands. L-serine is biosynthesized in the mammalian central nervous system from 3-phosphoglycerate and serves as a precursor for the synthesis of the amino acids glycine and cysteine. Physiologically, it has a variety of roles, perhaps most importantly as a phosphorylation site in proteins. Mutations in the metabolic enzymes that synthesize L-serine have been implicated in various human diseases. Dosing of animals with L-serine and human clinical trials investigating the therapeutic effects of L-serine support the FDA's determination that L-serine is generally regarded as safe (GRAS); it also appears to be neuroprotective. We here consider the role of L-serine in neurological disorders and its potential as a therapeutic agent.

Keywords: ALS; Alzheimer’s Disease; L-serine; Neurodegeneration; Neuroprotection; Therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Nervous System Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Neuroprotective Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Serine / therapeutic use*


  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Serine