By Biplab Das

What is Threonine?

Threonine is one of the 20 amino acids that constitute proteins. It is an essential amino acid, not produced by humans. Therefore, it has to be obtained from dietary sources.

In plants and microorganisms, threonine is synthesized from aspartic acid, another amino acid.

Health Benefits of Threonine

Threonine supports cardiovascular, liver, central nervous, and immune system function. Threonine aids in the synthesis of glycine and serine, two amino acids that help in the production of collagen, elastin, and muscle tissue. Threonine helps build strong bones and tooth enamel. It also speeds up wound healing after injury by boosting immune system.

Threonine combines with the amino acids aspartic acid and methionine to help liver digest fats and fatty acids, which reduces accumulation of fat in the liver. An accumulation of fats in the liver can affect negatively its function.

Threonine is useful in treating Lou Gherig’s Disease, also known as Amyotropic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Research shows that symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis (MS), another disease that affects nerve and muscle, are alleviated with threonine treatment. Threonine is an immunostimulant, which promotes the growth of thymus gland.

Threonine Deficiency

A study with animals (piglets) showed that threonine deficiency caused higher nitrogen excretion and higher blood urea. Histpathological analyses showed lower number of acidic mucin-producing goblet cells in the duodenum and ileum (parts of small intestine) of pigs fed with threonine-deficient diet. Dietary threonine imbalance is known to reduce the growth of the small intestine, liver, and skeletal muscle in young animals. Piglets fed deficient threonine diets had smaller intestinal weights, less mucosal tissue (the absorptive cells of the intestine), and less intestinal mucin (Mucin is mucous that lines the interior surface of the digestive organs like small intestine) compared to control pigs.

Intestinal mucins are important in normal functioning of the intestine. Mucin prevents: digestion of the intestinal wall by digestive enzymes, water loss from the intestinal wall, bacteria from adhering to the intestinal cells and toxins from being absorbed into the body. Without enough threonine in the body, fats could build up in the liver and ultimately cause liver failure.