Amino acid supplementation is gaining acceptance as an important adjuvant therapy in the treatment of diabetes and its associated complications. Numerous studies in the literature report the impaired amino acid metabolism in diabetes and the beneficial effects of amino acids are positively correlated with the increase in plasma levels of those amino acids. Oxidative stress is known to play a major role in diabetic pathophysiology. Sulfur containing compounds are well known in the treatment of oxidative stress induced pathological disorders. Methionine, cysteine, and homocysteine are the three common sulfur containing amino acids. In addition, taurine, a sulfonic acid containing an amino group (amino sulfonic acid), is found in substantial amounts in mammalian tissues. Both experimental and clinical studies reported the modulatory effects of cysteine, N-acetyl cysteine, or compounds having cysteine moiety in the regulation of insulin secretion and plasma glucose levels. Taurine supplementation has been found to prevent the onset of diabetes mellitus in experimental models of both insulin dependent and insulin independent pathways. Recent reports suggest that the beneficial role of cysteine or taurine is mediated via their ability in reducing glycooxidation and preventing the generation of intracellular reactive intermediates. Studies with methionine or S-adinosyl methionine has been shown to increase mitochondrial DNA density in skeletal muscle, improve insulin sensitivity and prevent body weight gain. Homocysteine, on the other hand, is an emerging risk factor for cardiovascular disease and diabetic patients have higher levels of this sulfur containing amino acid. Supplementation with cysteine or taurine, however, was found to be effective in reducing plasma homocysteine levels. This review will discuss the role of sulfur containing amino acids in the regulation of hyperglycemia and in the development of its associated pathological dysfunctions.
Keywords: Diabetes, hyperglycemia, oxidative stress, impaired amino acids metabolism, antioxidants, sulfur amino acids, antidiabetic