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Am J Clin Nutr. 1993 Nov;58(5 Suppl):779S-787S.

Protein fructosylation: fructose and the Maillard reaction.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth 02747.


Fructose, as is the case for other reducing sugars, undergoes the Maillard reaction with proteins and amino acids. The first stage of the reaction results in one or more substituted amino sugars. These products in turn enter the advanced and final stages of the Maillard reaction, which involve the formation of reactive intermediates, cross-linking of proteins, and the formation of brown and fluorescent polymeric materials. It would appear that the initial stages of the reaction occur more rapidly with fructose than with glucose. The Maillard reaction with any sugar, including fructose, results in a decrease in protein quality due to the loss of amino acid residues and decreased protein digestibility. Maillard products can inhibit the uptake and metabolism of free amino acids and of other nutrients such as zinc and some advanced Maillard products have mutagenic and/or anticarcinogenic properties. In vivo the Maillard reactions between proteins and fructose, glucose, and other reducing sugars may play a role in aging and in some of the clinical complications of diabetes.

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