British journal of pharmacology

Glycine, a simple physiological compound protecting by yet puzzling mechanism(s) against ischaemia-reperfusion injury: current knowledge.

PMID 22044190


Ischaemia is amongst the leading causes of death. Despite this importance, there are only a few therapeutic approaches to protect from ischaemia-reperfusion injury (IRI). In experimental studies, the amino acid glycine effectively protected from IRI. In the prevention of IRI by glycine in cells and isolated perfused or cold-stored organs (tissues), direct cytoprotection plays a crucial role, most likely by prevention of the formation of pathological plasma membrane pores. Under in vivo conditions, the mechanism of protection by glycine is less clear, partly due to the physiological presence of the amino acid. Here, inhibition of the inflammatory response in the injured tissue is considered to contribute decisively to the glycine-induced reduction of IRI. However, attenuation of IRI recently achieved in experimental animals by low-dose glycine treatment regimens suggests additional/other (unknown) protective mechanisms. Despite the convincing experimental evidence and the large therapeutic width of glycine, there are only a few clinical trials on the protection from IRI by glycine with ambivalent results. Thus, both the mechanism(s) behind the protection of glycine against IRI in vivo and its true clinical potential remain to be addressed in future experimental studies/clinical trials.