Glycine and aging: Evidence and mechanisms

Ageing Res Rev. 2023 Jun:87:101922. doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2023.101922. Epub 2023 Mar 31.


The restriction of calories, branched-chain amino acids, and methionine have all been shown to extend lifespan in model organisms. Recently, glycine was found to boost longevity in genetically heterogenous mice. This simple amino acid similarly extends lifespan in rats and improves health in mammalian models of age-related disease. While compelling data indicate that glycine is a pro-longevity molecule, divergent mechanisms may underlie its effects on aging. Glycine is abundant in collagen, a building block for glutathione, a precursor to creatine, and an acceptor for the enzyme glycine N-methyltransferase (GNMT). A review of the literature strongly implicates GNMT, which clears methionine from the body by taking a methyl group from S-adenosyl-L-methionine and methylating glycine to form sarcosine. In flies, Gnmt is required for reduced insulin/insulin-like growth factor 1 signaling and dietary restriction to fully extend lifespan. The geroprotector spermidine requires Gnmt to upregulate autophagy genes and boost longevity. Moreover, the overexpression of Gnmt is sufficient to extend lifespan and reduce methionine levels. Sarcosine, or methylglycine, declines with age in multiple species and is capable of inducing autophagy both in vitro and in vivo. Taken all together, existing evidence suggests that glycine prolongs life by mimicking methionine restriction and activating autophagy.

Keywords: Glycine; Healthspan; Lifespan; Longevity; Methionine; Sarcosine.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Glycine N-Methyltransferase / genetics
  • Glycine N-Methyltransferase / metabolism
  • Glycine* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Longevity
  • Mammals / metabolism
  • Methionine / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Racemethionine
  • Rats
  • Sarcosine*


  • Glycine
  • Sarcosine
  • Methionine
  • Glycine N-Methyltransferase
  • Racemethionine