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The following presentation is based on that of Neurolab,1, which has been supplemented and expanded.

Glycine is an inhibitory neurotransmitter and the smallest non-essential amino acid. Glycine is an important building block of almost all body proteins.2

Glycine is absorbed from food or formed in cell mitochondria from serine, threonine, choline and hydroxyproline.3

Conversion of glycine by the enzymes serine aldolase and L-serine deaminase via serine to pyruvate. Decarboxylation of glycine with the lipoprotein lipoyllysine by glycine dehydrogenase.

Glycine is a component of acetylcholine and increases acetylcholine synthesis in the hippocampus, striatum, and nucleus tractus solitarii.4

Effect of glycine:

  • In the brain:
    • Comparable effect to GABA (inhibitory)5
    • Agonist of glutamate NMDA receptors (exitatory)67 8
      • Glycine is constantly present in low concentrations in the extracellular and cerebrospinal fluid. The concentration is basically sufficient to saturate the NMDA receptor.9
      • Glycine transporters can change the concentration locally9
    • High oral doses cross blood-brain barrier8

Behavioral impacts:

  • Modulates the immune defense10
  • Has an antioxidant effect1110
    • Protects glutathione from degradation due to oxidative stress
  • Has a cytoprotective effect10
  • Modulates pain sensation
  • Possibly improves memory, but not attention12
  • Increases vasopressin, but not melatonin13
  • High evening doses have a sleep-promoting and sleep-prolonging effect213 14
    • In a case known to us of an adult woman with melancholic depression, glycine was able to resolve the massive sleep-through problems typical of melancholic depression.
  • Anxiety-relieving
    • In the dorsal periaqueductal gray anxiety-increasing7
  • Permanently improves schizophrenia symptoms (even after glycing has stopped)8
    • Negative symptoms: effect size 0.8
    • Positive symptoms: effect size 0.5
    • Cognitive symptoms: effect size 0.4
    • Depressive symptoms: slight improvement

  1. Neurolab: Glycin

  2. Razak, Begum, Viswanath, Rajagopal(2017): Multifarious Beneficial Effect of Nonessential Amino Acid, Glycine: A Review. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, Volume 2017, Article ID 1716701, 8 pages, Review Article

  3. Wang, Wu, Dai, Yang, Wang, Wu (2013): Glycine metabolism in animals and humans: implications for nutrition and health, Amino Acids 2013,45: 463.

  4. Talman, Wellendorf, Martinez, Ellison, Li, Cassell, Ohta (1994): Glycine elicits release of acetylcholine from the nucleus tractus solitarii in rat, Brain Research, Volume 650, Issue 2, 1994, Pages 253-259, ISSN 0006-8993,

  5. Rajendra, Lynch, Schofield (1997): The glycine receptor, Pharmacology & Therapeutics, Volume 73, Issue 2, 1997, Pages 121-146, ISSN 0163-7258,

  6. Johnson, Ascher (1987): Glycine potentiates the NMDA response in cultured mouse brain neurons. Nature Volume 325, pages 529–531

  7. Teixeira, Carobrez (1999): Effects of glycine or (±)-3-amino-l-hydroxy-2-pyrrolidone microinjections along the rostrocaudal axis of the dorsal periaqueductal gray matter on rats’ performance in the elevated plus-maze task. Behavioral Neuroscience, 113(1), 196-203.

  8. Javitt, Silipo, Cienfuegos, Shelley, Bark, Park, Lindenmayer, Suckow, Zukin, Adjunctive high-dose glycine in the treatment of schizophrenia, International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, Volume 4, Issue 4, December 2001, Pages 385–391,

  9. Graw (2015): Genetik, Seite 689

  10. Zhong, Wheeler, Li, Froh, Schemmer, Yin, Bunzendaul, Bradford, Lemasters (2003): L-Glycine: a novel antiinflammatory, immunomodulatory, and cytoprotective agent. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care: March 2003 – Volume 6 – Issue 2 – p 229-240 Nutrition in the intensive care unit

  11. Howard, Tahir, Javed, Waring, Ford, Hirst (2010): Glycine transporter GLYT1 is essential for glycine‐mediated protection of human intestinal epithelial cells against oxidative damage. The Journal of Physiology, 588: 995-1009. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2009.186262

  12. File, Fluck, Fernandes (1999): Beneficial Effects of Glycine (Bioglycin) on Memory and Attention in Young and Middle-Aged Adults. Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology: December 1999 – Volume 19 – Issue 6 – p 506-512. Vorsicht: Produktorientierte Studie.

  13. Bannai, Kawai, Ono, Nakahara, Murakami (2012): The effects of glycine on subjective daytime performance in partially sleep-restricted healthy volunteers. Front. Neurol., 18 April 2012.

  14. Bannai, Kawai (2012): New Therapeutic Strategy for Amino Acid Medicine: Glycine Improves the Quality of Sleep, Journal of Pharmacological Sciences, 2012, Volume 118, Issue 2, Pages 145-148, Released February 16, 2012,

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