Alanine is the amino acid with non-polar aliphatic side chains being its methyl group non-reactive and is hydrophobic i.e. water repellent. It is the non-essential amino acid. It is synthesized in the body. It was first obtained in 1879. It is glucogenic amino acid means it can give rise to glucose through alanine cycle. It has simple molecular structure. It has two stereoisomers, namely DL-alanine and D-alanine.
Being non-essential it needs not to be obtained from the food. But it is present in the variety of foods.
Animal sources: Its animal sources are meat, eggs, fish, gelatin, milk and dairy products etc.
Plant sources: The plant sources include rice, nuts, legumes, corn, seed, whole grains, soy, bran etc. Alanine is also found to occur in the bacterial cell wall as well as in peptide antibiotics.
As we know alanine is manufactured in our body so it is made by different types of amino acids themselves. These include pyruvate, leucine, valine, isoleucine, alpha-ketoglutarate and oxaloacetic acid. The reaction involved is transamination. In transamination reaction, transfer of one amino acid to another amino acid occurs which results in the formation of new amino acid.
The glutamic acid reacts with pyruvic acid under the presence of glutamine pyruvate transaminases (GPT) which are now called alanine aminotransferases (ALT) and gives rise to alanine and alpha-ketoglutarate. Alanine is produced in the muscle by this reaction. It is then carried to the liver by the blood where it gives rise to glutamic acid and pyruvic acid in reversible reaction.
It is also formed along with lactate.
When the condensation of acetaldehyde occurs with the ammonium chloride racemic alanine is produced.
Alanine gives rise to glutamate and pyruvate which have some important roles in our body.
Pyruvic acid forms glucose. The glucose so formed can go back to the muscles and thus completing the cycle what has been called the alanine-glucose cycle. Glucose is essential for energy.
Glutamic acid provides ammonia which is then utilized in the synthesis of urea in the liver.
Alanine is also needed for the metabolism of glucose and tryptophan and the vitamin B6 (pyridoxine).
Nowadays its supplements are available in the market with the name of beta-alanine. These have many advantages as they increase the muscular strength and power. If someone is lean, their uses increase his muscles mass. Boost the anaerobic endurance in a person and make the person strong and improves in him the ability to exercise well without getting fatigue early.
The alanine aminotransferase enzyme also has much importance. It is used as a test to measure the damage taking place in the liver as this enzyme is present in the liver. It is used to check cirrhosis, any viral liver disease like hepatitis, in jaundice etc.
There are theories that there is a linked between the high alanine level and high blood pressure. In the rats, it has also shown to reduce the cholesterol.
When deamination of alanine occurs, it results in the production of alkyl free radical which has lead to its use in the radiotherapy.
So we have seen alanine is not only needed by our body but has other benefits as well.