GlyNAC (Glycine and N-Acetylcysteine) Supplementation Improves Impaired Mitochondrial Fuel Oxidation and Lowers Insulin Resistance in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes: Results of a Pilot Study

Antioxidants (Basel). 2022 Jan 13;11(1):154. doi: 10.3390/antiox11010154.


Patients with type 2 diabetes (T2D) are known to have mitochondrial dysfunction and increased insulin resistance (IR), but the underlying mechanisms are not well understood. We reported previously that (a) adequacy of the antioxidant glutathione (GSH) is necessary for optimal mitochondrial fatty-acid oxidation (MFO); (b) supplementing the GSH precursors glycine and N-acetylcysteine (GlyNAC) in mice corrected GSH deficiency, reversed impaired MFO, and lowered oxidative stress (OxS) and IR; and (c) supplementing GlyNAC in patients with T2D improved GSH synthesis and concentrations, and lowered OxS. However, the effect of GlyNAC on MFO, MGO (mitochondrial glucose oxidation), IR and plasma FFA (free-fatty acid) concentrations in humans with T2D remains unknown. This manuscript reports the effect of supplementing GlyNAC for 14-days on MFO, MGO, IR and FFA in 10 adults with T2D and 10 unsupplemented non-diabetic controls. Fasted T2D participants had 36% lower MFO (p < 0.001), 106% higher MGO (p < 0.01), 425% higher IR (p < 0.001) and 76% higher plasma FFA (p < 0.05). GlyNAC supplementation significantly improved fasted MFO by 30% (p < 0.001), lowered MGO by 47% (p < 0.01), decreased IR by 22% (p < 0.01) and lowered FFA by 25% (p < 0.01). These results provide proof-of-concept that GlyNAC supplementation could improve mitochondrial dysfunction and IR in patients with T2D, and warrant additional research.

Keywords: GlyNAC; N-acetylcysteine; glycine; insulin resistance; mitochondria; type 2 diabetes.