Nonenzymatic browning in vivo: possible process for aging of long-lived proteins

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Science  30 Jan 1981:
Vol. 211, Issue 4481, pp. 491-493
DOI: 10.1126/science.6779377


The incubation of lens proteins with reducing sugars leads to the formation of fluorescent yellow pigments and cross-like similar to those reported in aging and cataractous human lenses. Called nonenzymatic browning or the Maillard reaction, this aging process also occurs in stored foods. Reducing sugars condense with the free amino group of proteins, then rearrange and dehydrate to form unsaturated pigments and cross-linked products. Although most proteins in living systems turn over with sufficient rapidity to avoid nonenzymatic browning, some, such as lens crystallins and skin collagen, are exceptionally long-lived and may be vulnerable.

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