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Essential amino acid histidine and colitis

Colitis is a chronic disease that causes inflammation of the large intestine and may also cause ulcerations in the intestinal surface, causing sometimes abdominal cramps and bloody diarrhea. More than 3 million people in the US suffer from colitis. Patients suffer under frequent relapses and successful development of predictive markers for relapses would make it possible to modify clinical management of the disease and the subsequent therapy.

The disease is more common in Northern countries of the world, probably due to environmental and dietary reasons. Several nutritional tools were proposed to aid in treating colitis, for example an increased intake of garlic. The latest data also show that histidine, a nutritionally essential amino acid, could be of therapeutic use in relapsing colitis patients. Histidine helps with creation and maintenance of red and white blood cells, tissues and also the myelin that protect nerve cells. Plus, because histidine contributes to the production of stomach gastric juice, people suffering from ulcerative colitis may benefit from a supplemental form of this amino acid, perhaps taken together with folate. The suggested daily adult dose for histidine is 1.0 – 1.5 g orally taken 2-3 times daily. As an essential (necessary) nutrient, histidine is believed to be safe at various dietary levels; however attention should be paid to appropriate specifications and quality of any purchased supplemental form.

Recently, Japanese researchers documented, by using sophisticated metabolomic approaches, that plasma amino acid profiles in ulcerative colitis patients in clinical remission can predict the risk of relapse. Significantly, decreased circulating histidine level was associated with increased risk of the disease relapse (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26474176). Comparable, if not as exact results were reported independently by scientist in China (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26269443). This specific outcome not only highlights the diagnostic potential of computerized metabolomics based on circulating levels of amino acids, but also shows that essential amino acids are very good indicators of both health and disease.