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World J Diabetes. 2015 Apr 15;6(3):500-7. doi: 10.4239/wjd.v6.i3.500.

Tyrosine isomers and hormonal signaling: A possible role for the hydroxyl free radical in insulin resistance.

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Gergő A Molnár, Esztella Zsóka Mikolás, István András Szijártó, Szilárd Kun, Eszter Sélley, István Wittmann, 2 Department of Medicine and Nephrological Center, University of Pécs, H-7624 Pécs, Hungary.


Oxidative stress processes play a major role in the development of the complications associated with diabetes and other diseases via non-enzymatic glycation, the hexosamine pathway, the polyol pathway and diacylglycerol-protein kinase C. Oxidative stress may lead to the production of hydroxyl free radicals, which can attack macromolecules, such as lipids, nucleic acids or amino acids. Phenylalanine (Phe) can be enzymatically converted to the physiological para-tyrosine (p-Tyr); however, a hydroxyl free radical attack on Phe may yield meta- and ortho-tyrosine (m- and o-Tyr, respectively) in addition to p-Tyr. Hence, m- and o-Tyr may be regarded as markers of hydroxyl free radical-induced damage. Their accumulation has been described; e.g., this accumulation has been found in the urine of patients with diabetes mellitus (DM) and/or chronic kidney disease, in cataract lenses, in vessel walls, in irradiated food and in amniotic fluid, and it may serve as an indicator of oxidative stress. The use of resveratrol to treat patients with type 2 DM led to a decrease in the urinary excretion of o-Tyr and concomitantly led to an improvement in insulin signaling and insulin sensitivity. Literature data also suggest that m- and o-Tyr may interfere with intracellular signaling. Our group has shown that erythropoietin (EPO) has insulin-like metabolic effects on fat cells in addition to its ability to promote the proliferation of erythroid precursor cells. We have shown that the supplementation of cell culture medium with m- and o-Tyr inhibits erythroblast cell proliferation, which could be ameliorated by p-Tyr. Additionally, in vivo, the o-Tyr/p-Tyr ratio is higher in patients with renal replacement therapy and a greater need for EPO. However, the o-Tyr/p-Tyr ratio was an independent determinant of EPO-resistance indices in our human study. The o-Tyr content of blood vessel walls inversely correlates with insulin- and acetylcholine-induced vasodilation, which could be further impaired by artificial oxidative stress and improved by the use of antioxidants. In rats that receive o-Tyr supplements, decreased vasorelaxation is detected in response to insulin. Additionally, o-Tyr supplementation led to the incorporation of the unnatural amino acid into cellular proteins and caused a decrease in the insulin-induced phosphorylation of endothelial nitric oxide synthase. Our data suggest that m- and o-Tyr may not only be markers of oxidative stress; instead, they may also be incorporated into cellular proteins, leading to resistance to insulin, EPO and acetylcholine.


Acetylcholine; Erythropoietin; Hormone resistance; Insulin resistance; Meta-tyrosine; Ortho-tyrosine; Oxidative stress; Para-tyrosine

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