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West Swanzey, NH, United States

Maillard reactions are an unavoidable feature of life that appear to be damaging to cell and organisms. Consequently, all living systems must have ways to protect themselves against this process. As of 2012, several such defense mechanisms have been identified. They are all enzymatic and were found in mesophilic organisms. To date, no systematic study of Maillard reactions and the relevant defense mechanisms has been conducted in thermophiles (50 C-80 C) or hyperthermophiles (80 C-120 C). This is surprisingly because Maillard reactions become significantly faster and potent with increasing temperatures. This review examines this neglected issue in two well-defined sets of hyperthermophiles. My analysis suggests that hyperthermophiles cope with glycation stress by several mechanisms: • Absence of glycation-prone head groups (such as ethanoalamine) from hyperthermophilic phospholipids • Protection of reactive carbohydrates and labile metabolic intermediates by substrate channeling. • Conversion of excess reactive sugars such as glucose to non-reactive compounds including trehalose, di-myo-inositol-phosphate and mannosylglycerate. • Detoxification of methylglyoxal and other ketoaldehydes by conversion to inert products through a variety of reductases and dehydrogenases. • Scavenging of the remaining carbonyls by nucleophilic amines, including a variety of novel polyamines. Disruption of the Maillard process at its early stages, rather than repair of damage caused by it at later stages, appears to be the preferred strategy in the organisms examined. The most unique among these mechanisms appears to be a polyamine-based scavenging system. Undertaking research of the Maillard process in hyperthermophiles is important in its own right and is also likely to provide new insights for the control of these reactions in humans, especially in diseases such as diabetes mellitus. © Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Source

Diabetes mellitus is a global pandemic that accounts for ever-increasing rates of morbidity and mortality and consumes a growing share of national health care budgets. In spite of concerted efforts, a solution to this problem has not yet been found. One reason for this situation is lack of good animal models. Such models have been used successfully in many areas of biomedical research, but they have proven less than satisfactory in studies on diabetic complications. In this article, we propose to supplement traditional animal models of diabetes that use longitudinal, prospective studies of sick animals (mammals) with retrospective/comparative investigations of healthy animals (birds). Avians are promising models for such studies because they live healthy lives with chronic hyperglycemia that would be fatal to humans. We outline the advantages of the new perspective and show how, by implementing this approach, we observed that birds appear to be missing an important gene linked to diabetic complications. The protein encoded by this gene is a receptor for advanced glycation end products (RAGEs). Although the absence of RAGEs from birds has yet to be confirmed at the protein level, other differences between humans and birds may also be important in accounting for the ability of birds to live with chronic hyperglycemia. Two such additional such characteristics are currently being explored, and it is probable that more will emerge in time. We believe that the proposed perspective may improve the understanding of diabetes mellitus and may help in developing new means for controlling and preventing diabetic complications. © 2014 Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Source

In our previous publication, we reported on the advantages of using birds as a pathology-free model of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Using this new perspective, we observed that birds are missing the RAGE gene, considered an important factor in the development of diabetic complications. In this article, we identify two additional Maillard reaction-related characteristics of birds that have the potential to account, in part, for avian ability to cope successfully with chronic hyperglycemia. First, compared to mammals, blood plasma of birds has significantly higher concentrations of taurine and other free amino acids that act as scavengers of reactive carbonyls. Second, there are also indications that avian blood plasma contains lower concentrations of methylglyoxal (MG) due, in part, to its decreased production by avian erythrocytes. Our deductions are based on relatively meager experimental data and are therefore speculative. One certain outcome of our study, however, is the idea that birds can be a useful model for the study of Maillard reactions and etiology of diabetic complications. We anticipate and hope that results of future studies will support the hypothesis identifying MG as a key intermediate in the etiology of diabetic complications. If this is indeed the case, then prevention and control of diabetic complications may become transformed into a more circumscribed, defined, and tractable problem whose goals will be to minimize the production of MG and to maximize its elimination by detoxification or scavenging. © 2014 Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Source

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