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Glycoproteins and their health benefits


In 1999, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Gunter Blobel for the discovery that proteins have intrinsic signals that govern their transport and location in the cell. It was based on this research on how cells use these signals that the functions of glycoproteins were discovered.

Glycoproteins are molecules that have sugars and proteins attached to them. The sugar chains of glycoproteins play a role in determining their fate in the cell or body. The binding of sugars to proteins to form glycoproteins significantly alters the properties of these proteins.

There are eight sugars that predominantly bind with proteins to form glycoproteins, these are: xylose, galactose, glucose, mannose, fucose, N-acetylgalactosamine, N-acetylglucosamine and N-acetylneuraminic acid.


Glycans contain biological information and are the specific sequence of sugars in a glycoprotein that determines its recognition and interaction with other molecules in the cell, often resulting in a biological effect or response. These impart their function to the glycoproteins.

Glycoproteins have many functions in the human body. Some interesting functions are that they are used structurally in the body to form some types of collagen; or they are involved in cell-cell interactions, such as in the proteins involved in sperm-egg interactions during fertilization or how cells come together to form tissues and communicate with each other. They also work in cell signaling.

Cell signaling is the related study of how healthy cells respond adequately in health to various stimuli, for example, hormones, growth factors, drugs, cell-cell contact, etc. Glycoproteins on the surface of one cell bind to glycoprotein receptors on another cell, allowing cells to communicate with each other. These communications then result in other cellular events, such as the secretion of bioactive substances, the death of bacteria and cellular debris, the inhibition of adherence necessary for bacterial infection. Conversely, responses may be inappropriate in certain diseases, such as cancer and cancer cell metastasis.

Lectins, for example, are proteins that selectively bind to glucans. One lectin will recognize and bind to the mannose at the end of a glycan, while others will recognize and bind to glycans that contain fucose, galactose, or other sugars. A class of lectins called selectins helps white blood cells reach sites of inflammation.


Glyconutrition is the supplementation of the 8 main sugars that the body needs from glycoproteins. They are considered essential nutrients, just like essential amino acids or essential fatty acids, which means you need to get them from your diet.


There are metabolic pathways for the synthesis of sugars other than glucose from glucose, and glucose was long thought to be the most important dietary sugar; It has recently been shown that glycoprotein formation actually prefers to use essential sugars other than glucose (eg mannose) provided in the diet as substrates. In fact, if only glucose is supplied, the liver malfunctions due to a lack of other essential sugars, indicating that the body simply cannot synthesize all the other essential sugars from glucose to the extent that they are needed.


These 8 sugars will only appear in ripe fruit and vegetables on vine; this essentially means that the fruit or vegetable ripens on the plant. However, this is a process that no longer occurs in modern agriculture. Much of our fruits and vegetables are picked green and artificially ripened before being placed on the supermarket shelves. This unfortunately means that we have to supplement with them to obtain the eight necessary sugars essential for health.


As can be seen in the previous paragraphs, glycoproteins are vital for the health and maintenance of the human body; So much so, that extensive research has been conducted on them in relation to certain diseases.

Implications for cancer. Research has shown that there are changes in the sugars in cancer cells’ glycoproteins. These changes are related to the adhesion properties of the cancer cell and its ability to adhere to other cells in the body or metastasize. These altered glycoproteins may also be related to the tumor’s ability to avoid immune system responses. Altered glycoproteins have been found in cancers of the intestine, pancreas, liver, ovary, prostate, and lung.

Glycoproteins that have mannose in their structure have been shown to activate macrophages (a cell of the immune system), one of the most important cells involved in fighting cancer. In addition, the release of substances from the macrophage is stimulated, which activates natural killer cells (another cell of the immune system involved in the elimination of cancer cells).

Implications for chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. The main symptoms of these conditions include muscle and joint pain, chronic fatigue, unrefreshing sleep, chronic tension, migraines, and irritability of the intestines and bladder. The immune, endocrine (eg, hormones), nervous (eg, neurotransmitters, sleep pathways, psychological stress), and muscular (eg, tender points) systems of the body are intimately involved in these syndromes. All glycoproteins play an important role in maintaining the health and normal functioning of these systems. Therefore, supplementation with the 8 simple sugars can have a positive impact on these syndromes.

Implications for inflammation. Inflammation itself is not a disease, but occurs as a result of tissue injury, as in a bacterial infection. Inflammation is usually beneficial to the individual. However, this process can get out of control, since many diseases that affect us are inflammatory in origin. As noted above, glycoproteins help guide immune cells to sites of inflammation, and they are also involved in the process of allowing immune cells to pass through the wall of blood vessels and enter tissues at the site of inflammation. .

Implications for Helicobacter pylori-induced peptic ulcers. Helicobacter pylori binds to 2 specific glycans on the cell surfaces of the stomach and duodenum. Once attached, the bacteria release various enzymes that, together with the acidic content of the stomach, cause ulceration. Glycans are the first molecules that bacteria find as a means of attaching themselves to cells. The 8 sugars compete with bacteria for adherence to glycans and is a way of blocking bacterial adhesion.

Implications for stress. Research has shown that glycoprotein formation is significantly altered in various types of stress, such as infection, inflammation, and trauma.

Stress exists in many forms, be it psychological (as in nervous system dysfunction), environmental (as in extreme heat or chemical toxins), or physical-chemical (as in exercise). Glycoproteins prevent and repair damage to cells as a result of these stresses.

Implications for rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory condition and glyconutritions are known to positively affect inflammation.

RA is an autoimmune disease, which means that antibodies are produced against the body’s own tissues; This implies that there is a lack of communication between the immune system and the joint tissue. The abnormal antibody produced is IgG, which has less than normal amounts of galactose in its structure, and during remission this reduction in galactose is reversed.

Fucose has also been found to be markedly reduced in RA patients. The greater the fucose deficiency in RA patients, the more severe the symptoms.

Supplementation of the necessary sugars, that is, galactose and fucose, that the body needs to fight this disease.

On the subject of autoimmune diseases, I would like to share a case of mine successfully treated with the ise of these 8 essential sugars. Ms. T. introduced me to discoid lupus, which is a milder case of lupus that predominantly affects the skin and causes hard, scar-shaped lesions. He had these injuries scattered all over his body. I prescribed powdered sugars, 5g / day. After using them for a period of 3 months, all of her skin lesions healed completely, and her antinuclear factor had dropped to normal blood levels.

In my personal experience with these sugars, I have found that they are the best in treating autoimmune diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, etc. If you have any questions about using the 8 sugars for your health condition (s), please feel free to contact me.


As can be seen from the previous article, proper glycoprotein formation plays an important role in maintaining health and fighting disease. Sadly, six of the eight sugars no longer appear in our food supply and it has become necessary to supplement with these sugars to maintain optimal health.