NeuroImmune Transmitters: Glycine

Glycine is a neurotransmitter for which elevated levels have been observed to correlate with inflammation.  From the literature, it has been demonstrated that glycine has an immunomodulatory role – inhibiting, as well as stimulating, pro-inflammatory cytokine production and synthesis.  However, it is not clear which inflammatory processes stimulate the increased synthesis of glycine.  The studies below are a sampling of the research pertaining to glycine’s connection to the immune system.

Glycine can stimulate TNF-alpha production from macrophages.

Glycine can stimulate TNF-alpha production from macrophages.

  • Carmans, et al. (2010), discussed that glycine has been shown to modulate peripheral immune cell responses.  Glycine modulates macrophage effector functions implicated in central nervous system inflammation by stimulating TNF-α production by macrophages.  The authors also noted that glycine levels are increased in several neuroinflammatory disorders, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and multiple sclerosis (MS).
  • Hasegawa, et al., (2010) found that glycine can inhibit NF-κB activation and IL-6 production in human arterial endothelial cells, suggesting that it may exhibit anti-inflammatory effects during endothelial inflammation.
  • It was reported by Almanza-Perez, et al., (2010) that glycine can regulate the production of inflammatory cytokines, including TNF-α and IL-6, through peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (involved in energy balance) in adipocytes.

Glycine’s correlation with inflammation should be considered when examining a neurotransmitter report.  Identifying and ruling out potential immune contributions is an important aspect of determining the root cause of a patient’s symptoms and imbalances observed in urinary neurotransmitter tests.

References
Almanza-Perez, J.C., et al. (2010). Glycine regulates inflammatory markers modifying the energetic balance through PPAR and UCP-2. Biomed Pharmacother, 64(8): 534-40.
Carmans, S., et al. (2010). The inhibitory neurotransmitter glycine modulates macrophage activity by activation of neutral amino acid transporters. J Neurosci Res, 88(11): 2420-30.
Hasegawa, S., et al. (2010). Cysteine, histidine and glycine exhibit anti-inflammatory effects in human coronary arterial endothelial cells. Clin Exp Immunol, 167(2): 269-74.
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