LIFE-EXTENDING NUTRIENT OR NEUROTOXIN?
dipeptide, carnosine, composed of two linked amino acids,
histidine and beta-alanine, occurs naturally only in meat
products, has been recently promoted in some publications
for the treatment of disorders that may range from neurological
degeneration to brain circulatory deficit.
The studies described were performed on cell culture experiments,
i.e. cells grown in bottles away from a living being, or in
rodents. After reading these articles, one may have the notion
that taking carnosine is a prerequisite for health, youth
must be considered that every coin has two sides ...
Aspartame (NutraSweet), is also a two amino acid peptide (dipeptide)
that has been used to sweeten foods and drinks, however, today
we know that it may be a dangerous neurotoxin, causing numerous
neurological symptoms and disorders.
what about carnosine?
the real biomedical world carnosine is significant when the
HUMAN body is unable to detoxify itself of it, i.e. break it
down. This simply means, when there is an accumulation of carnosine,
serious, even life threatening neurological diseases may set
in. This condition is referred to as
Carnosinemia is of established biomedical recognition and significance.
The condition simply is carnosine
overload perpetrated by either a genetical defect
due to a lack of production of the detoxifying enzyme carnosinase,
or it can occur from the inhibition of the enzyme by too much
of its substrate, carnosine.
DICTIONARY & ENCYCLOPEDIA OF LABORATORY MEDICINE AND TECHNOLOGY,
ed. J.L. Bennington, W.B. Saunders and Company, 1984, p.262
an inherited condition, transmitted as an autosomal recessive
trait, that is characterized by the presence of excessive
amounts of carnosine in the blood and urine. Caused
by genetic deficiency of the enzyme carnosinase (aminoacyl-histidine
results in progressive neurological damage, severe mental retardation,
and myoclonic seizures," as found in Alzheimer's and progressive
myoclonous epilepsy, Jacob-Creutzfeldt disease (mad cow or spongy
brain diseases), subacute sclerosing panencephalitis, closed
head trauma, and hypoxic-ischemic brain injury.
more current reference, TIETZ TEXTBOOK of CLINICAL CHEMISTRY,
ed. C.A. Burtis and E.R. Ashwood, W.B. Saunders Company, 1999,
p. 452 describes, "carnosinemia, carnosinase deficiency,
excessive amounts of carnosine in the blood and
urine, also excessive amount of homocarnosine in the urine,
with clinical features of severe neurological disease with no
should be realized that an overload of substrate, i.e. carnosine
in the present case, will cause the inhibition of the degradation/detoxifying
enzyme, carnosinase. As a result, there will be an accumulation
of high concentrations of carnosine in the blood and tissues.
This carnosine accumulation is the same as induced carnosinemia
and potentially, in time it may cause many of the deleterious
effects described above.
reported a reduced carnosinase activity in patients with Parkinson's
disease, multiple sclerosis, and patients following a cerebrovascular
accident, Wassif WS, Sherwood RA, Amir A, Idowu B, Leigh N,
Petres TJ, Serum Carnosinase Activities in Central Nervous System
Disorders, Clin Chim Acta 1994 Feb;225(1): 57-64.
there be a correlation between carnosine overload and these neurological
a conclusion, those who are presently taking carnosine may,
in fact, induce the potentially dangerous neurotoxic condition,
carnosinemia. Therefore, it is not advisable to supplement with
carnosine. In the light of all of the above, one can see one
of the true benefits of a vegetarian diet. Patients with neurological
disorders such as M.S., Parkinson's Disease, A.L.S. and Alzheimer's
Disease could very well benefit from a vegetarian diet.
Dr. E.K. Schandl
Ph.D., FACB, SC(ASCP), CC(NRCC), LNC, CLD, Clinical Laboratory
Director, Oncobiologist Clinical/Nutritional Biochemist
of the opinions expressed in these columns are solely those of Dr.