Protein cross-linking via the Maillard reaction with alpha-dicarbonyl compounds has been the subject of intense scrutiny in the literature. We report here a study of the impact of this cross-linking on enzyme function. Protein function following glycation was examined by treating ribonuclease A with methylglyoxal, glyoxal, and diacetyl, which cross-linked the enzyme and impaired its activity. The effects of two reported Maillard reaction inhibitors, aminoguanidine and 3,5-dimethylpyrazole-1-carboxamidine, on the cross-linking reaction were assessed, with a parallel measurement of the effect on enzyme activity. The results demonstrate that preventing protein cross-linking does not necessarily preserve enzyme activity. These results cast doubt on the likely efficacy of some purported antiaging compounds in vivo.
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