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Beneficial Effects of Betaine: A Comprehensive Review

Research Service, Veterans Affairs Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System, Omaha, NE 68105, USA
Department of Internal Medicine, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE 68198, USA
Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE 68198, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Paolo Parini
Biology 2021, 10(6), 456;
Received: 31 March 2021 / Revised: 6 May 2021 / Accepted: 19 May 2021 / Published: 22 May 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Non-alcoholic Liver Injury)
A large number of studies report that medicinal herbs and many food ingredients protect against the development of liver disease because they possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, or anti-necrotic activities. This review focuses on the biological and beneficial effects of dietary betaine (trimethylglycine), a naturally occurring and crucial methyl donor, that restores methionine homeostasis in cells. We describe recent studies on betaine’s mechanism(s) of action as a therapeutic agent for improving indices of alcohol-induced and metabolic- associated liver disease. Due to its low cost, high tolerability, and efficacy, we suggest betaine as a promising therapeutic for clinical use to treat these aforementioned diseases as well as other liver-/non-liver-related diseases and conditions.
Medicinal herbs and many food ingredients possess favorable biological properties that contribute to their therapeutic activities. One such natural product is betaine, a stable, nontoxic natural substance that is present in animals, plants, and microorganisms. Betaine is also endogenously synthesized through the metabolism of choline or exogenously consumed through dietary intake. Betaine mainly functions as (i) an osmolyte and (ii) a methyl-group donor. This review describes the major physiological effects of betaine in whole-body health and its ability to protect against both liver- as well as non-liver-related diseases and conditions. Betaine’s role in preventing/attenuating both alcohol-induced and metabolic-associated liver diseases has been well studied and is extensively reviewed here. Several studies show that betaine protects against the development of alcohol-induced hepatic steatosis, apoptosis, and accumulation of damaged proteins. Additionally, it can significantly prevent/attenuate progressive liver injury by preserving gut integrity and adipose function. The protective effects are primarily associated with the regulation of methionine metabolism through removing homocysteine and maintaining cellular SAM:SAH ratios. Similarly, betaine prevents metabolic-associated fatty liver disease and its progression. In addition, betaine has a neuroprotective role, preserves myocardial function, and prevents pancreatic steatosis. Betaine also attenuates oxidant stress, endoplasmic reticulum stress, inflammation, and cancer development. To conclude, betaine exerts significant therapeutic and biological effects that are potentially beneficial for alleviating a diverse number of human diseases and conditions. View Full-Text
Keywords: alcohol; adipose tissue; betaine; diet; hepatic steatosis; methylation; S-adenosylhomocysteine; S-adenosylmethionine alcohol; adipose tissue; betaine; diet; hepatic steatosis; methylation; S-adenosylhomocysteine; S-adenosylmethionine
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MDPI and ACS Style

Arumugam, M.K.; Paal, M.C.; Donohue, T.M., Jr.; Ganesan, M.; Osna, N.A.; Kharbanda, K.K. Beneficial Effects of Betaine: A Comprehensive Review. Biology 2021, 10, 456.

AMA Style

Arumugam MK, Paal MC, Donohue TM Jr., Ganesan M, Osna NA, Kharbanda KK. Beneficial Effects of Betaine: A Comprehensive Review. Biology. 2021; 10(6):456.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Arumugam, Madan Kumar, Matthew C. Paal, Terrence M. Donohue Jr., Murali Ganesan, Natalia A. Osna, and Kusum K. Kharbanda. 2021. "Beneficial Effects of Betaine: A Comprehensive Review" Biology 10, no. 6: 456.

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