ASPARAGINE

meatAsparagine is an amino acid that we typically all can make from either aspartate or glutamine that we get in our diets.  I was not aware of deficiency states for this until a couple of my own patients tested low for this amino acid on the Spectracell Micronutrient Test (MNT). Read more at www.spectracell.com
Asparagine seems to have a role in:
 – Proper sequences of amino acids and proteins (amino acids are the building blocks of proteins).
 – It is the safe storage form of aspartate, needed to make DNA, RNA, and ATP. 
 – It provides amino groups for the production of other amino acids when they are needed.

The major health concerns regarding asparagine seem to come when there is a problem with the enzyme asparagine synthetase (ASNS). The enzyme ASNS converts aspartate to asparagine and and glutamine to glutamate. Health problems are either due to the lack of asparagine (not enough in the diet or not enough made due to the lack of ASNS function) or due to the accumulation of aspartate and glutamine when the enzyme is missing or not working properly.

Asparagine in protein is an attachment site for carbohydrates involved in the formation of collagen, enzymes, and in cell to cell recognition.

Aspartate is involved in cellular energy in the citric acid cycle, and in the urea cycle it helps in the removal of excess ammonia.

 

SYMPTOMS OF DEFICIENCY

There is limited published data on asparagine deficiency symptoms. In a study “Deficiency of asparagine synthetase causes congenital microcephaly and a progressive form of encephalopathy” (you can read that here… ) four families with this genetic defect were found and their babies had congenital microcephaly (small heads), intellectual disability, progressive cerebral atrophy, and intractable seizures. 

In over 10,000 patients tested by MNT, 23% were found to have deficient asparagine function with the main symptoms reported being those of fatigue and immune stress (autoimmune issues like rheumatoid arthritis and allergies). 

This is one of those deficiencies that you or your physician would not discover unless specialized testing like MNT was done or the genetics were determined through an extensive or specific genetic analysis. 

 

FOOD SOURCES

Asparagine is considered a dispensable amino acid since it is present in all proteins, and our body can make more from aspartate and glutamine. There is no RDA, though cooking, storage, and acidity can destroy asparagine. 

 

SAFETY AND TOXICITY

No toxicity has been reported. 

It appears safe to supplement up to 6 grams daily in adults. If supplementing children, I would make the following estimations of need:
Infants                         – up to 1 gm daily
Children                       – up to 2 gms daily
Teens/adults               – up to 6 gms daily

Since there is very little literature on supplementing this amino acid, I would use symptoms and MNT to assess the effects of your supplementation after 3-6 months at a particular level of supplementing. 

Molecular basis for the activation of a catalytic asparagine residue in a self-cleaving bacterial autotransporter

Asparagine synthetase: regulation by cell stress and involvement in tumor biology

 

 

Dr. Paul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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