Threonine is a large neutral amino acid and a precursor for the amino acid glycine. Foods that contain relatively high amounts of threonine include cheeses (especially Swiss), meat, fish, poultry, seeds, walnuts, cashews, almonds and peanuts. Threonine gets converted to glycine using a two-step biochemical pathway involving the enzymes threonine dehydrogenase and the vitamin B6-dependent glycine C-acetyltransferase.
Threonine has been studied clinically as a supplement to increase cerebrospinal fluid levels of glycine in patients with spasticity related to neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Threonine may also play a role in tissue healing and liver health. It is used to synthesize body proteins and is found in high concentrations relative to other amino acids in mucus glycoproteins. Many amino acids, including threonine can be converted into citric acid cycle intermediates for mitochondrial ATP production or for gluconeogenesis, depending on the body’s needs.
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Low levels of essential amino acids may indicate a poor-quality diet, or maldigestion due to deficient digestive peptidase activity or pancreatic dysfunction. Vitamin B3 deficiency has been associated with lower levels of threonine, and other amino acids.
- Researchers found elevated plasma threonine was associated with a reduced risk of an atherogenic lipid profile (n=475).
- Urine threonine was higher in PCOS patients.
- High dietary intake of threonine-rich foods result in elevated levels, as well as lack of vitamin cofactors (Vit B6) needed to utilize and metabolize threonine.
- Evaluate glycine, benzoic acid, and hippuric acid to establish glycine need, as high glycine need could drain threonine.
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