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Skeletal formula
Ball-and-stick model of methylglyoxal
IUPAC name
Other names
(hydrate: 1186-47-6) 78-98-8 (hydrate: 1186-47-6) N
ChEMBL ChEMBL170721 YesY
ChemSpider 857 YesY
DrugBank DB03587 N
Jmol-3D images Image
KEGG C00546 YesY
MeSH Methylglyoxal
PubChem 880
UNII 722KLD7415 YesY
Molar mass 72.06 g·mol−1
Appearance Yellow liquid
Density 1.046 g/cm3
Boiling point 72 °C (162 °F; 345 K)
Related compounds
Related compounds
glyoxylic acid
pyruvic acid
acetoacetic acid
Except where noted otherwise, data is given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C (77 °F), 100 kPa)
 N verify (what isYesY/N?)
Infobox references

Methylglyoxal, also called pyruvaldehyde or 2-oxopropanal, is the organic compound with the formula CH3C(O)CHO. It has two carbonyl groups, an aldehyde and a ketone. It is a reduced derivative of pyruvic acid. Samples of methylglyoxal typically consist of the hydrates and oligomers.[1]


In organisms, methylglyoxal is formed as a side-product of several metabolic pathways.[2] It may form from 3-aminoacetone, which is an intermediate of threonine catabolism, as well as through lipid peroxidation. However, the most important source is glycolysis. Here, methylglyoxal arises from nonenzymatic phosphate elimination from glyceraldehyde phosphate and dihydroxyacetone phosphate, two intermediates of glycolysis. Since methylglyoxal is highly cytotoxic, the body developed several detoxification mechanisms. One of these is the glyoxalase system. Methylglyoxal reacts with glutathione to form a hemithioacetal. This is converted into S-D-lactoyl-glutathione by glyoxalase I,[3] and then further metabolized into D-lactate by glyoxalase II.[4]

Why methylglyoxal is produced remains unknown, but it may be involved in the formation of advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs).[5] In this process, methylglyoxal reacts with free amino groups of lysine and arginine and with thiol groups of cysteine, forming AGEs. Recent research has identified heat shock protein 27 (Hsp27) as a specific target of posttranslational modification by methylglyoxal in human metastatic melanoma cells.[6]

Other glycation agents include the reducing sugars:

Due to increased blood glucose levels, methylglyoxal has higher concentrations in diabetics, and has been linked to arterial atherogenesis. Damage by methylglyoxal to low-density lipoprotein through glycation causes a fourfold increase of atherogenesis in diabetics.[7]

Although methylglyoxal has been shown to increase carboxymethyllysine levels,[8] methylglyoxal has been suggested to be a better marker for investigating the association between AGEs with adverse health outcomes.

Recently one mechanism of activity in humans of methylglyoxal has been identified.[9][10] Methylglyoxal binds directly to the nerves responsible for pain registration and by that increases pain sensation.

Methylglyoxal is an active component of manuka honey. However, after neutralization of this compound manuka honey retains bactericidal activity due to unknown factors.[11] Methylglyoxal can not be directly linked and stated as the main content to the antimicrobial and antibacterial activities in manuka honey [12]


  1. ^ Loeffler, Kirsten W.; Koehler, Charles A.; Paul, Nichole M.; De Haan, David O. "Oligomer Formation in Evaporating Aqueous Glyoxal and Methyl Glyoxal Solutions" Environmental Science & Technology (2006), 40(20), 6318-6323. doi:10.1021/es060810w
  2. ^ Inoue Y, Kimura A (1995). "Methylglyoxal and regulation of its metabolism in microorganisms". Adv. Microb. Physiol. Advances in Microbial Physiology 37: 177–227. doi:10.1016/S0065-2911(08)60146-0. ISBN 978-0-12-027737-7. PMID 8540421. 
  3. ^ Thornalley PJ (2003). "Glyoxalase I—structure, function and a critical role in the enzymatic defence against glycation". Biochem. Soc. Trans. 31 (Pt 6): 1343–8. doi:10.1042/BST0311343. PMID 14641060. 
  4. ^ Vander Jagt DL (1993). "Glyoxalase II: molecular characteristics, kinetics and mechanism". Biochem. Soc. Trans. 21 (2): 522–7. PMID 8359524. 
  5. ^ Shinohara M; Thornalley, PJ; Giardino, I; Beisswenger, P; Thorpe, SR; Onorato, J; Brownlee, M (1998). "Overexpression of glyoxalase-I in bovine endothelial cells inhibits intracellular advanced glycation endproduct formation and prevents hyperglycemia-induced increases in macromolecular endocytosis". J Clin Invest. 101 (5): 1142–7. doi:10.1172/JCI119885. PMC 508666. PMID 9486985. 
  6. ^ Bair WB 3rd, Cabello CM, Uchida K, Bause AS, Wondrak GT (April 2010). "GLO1 overexpression in human malignant melanoma". Melanoma Res 20 (2): 85–96. doi:10.1097/CMR.0b013e3283364903. PMC 2891514. PMID 20093988. 
  7. ^ Rabbani N; Godfrey, L; Xue, M; Shaheen, F; Geoffrion, M; Milne, R; Thornalley, PJ (May 26, 2011). "Glycation of LDL by methylglyoxal increases arterial atherogenicity. A possible contributor to increased risk of cardiovascular disease in diabetes". Diabetes 60 (7): 1973–80. doi:10.2337/db11-0085. PMC 3121424. PMID 21617182. 
  8. ^ Cai, W., Uribarri, J., Zhu, L., Chen, X., Swamy, S., Zhao, Z., Grosjean, F., Simonaro, C., Kuchel, G. A., Schnaider-Beeri, M., Woodward, M., Striker, G. E., and Vlassara, H. (2014) Oral glycotoxins are a modifiable cause of dementia and the metabolic syndrome in mice and humans. PNAS 111.
  9. ^ Spektrum: Diabetische Neuropathie: Methylglyoxal verstärkt den Schmerz: (2012-05-21). Retrieved on 2012-06-11.
  10. ^ Bierhaus, Angelika; Fleming, Thomas; Stoyanov, Stoyan; Leffler, Andreas; Babes, Alexandru; Neacsu, Cristian; Sauer, Susanne K; Eberhardt, Mirjam et al. (2012). "Methylglyoxal modification of Nav1.8 facilitates nociceptive neuron firing and causes hyperalgesia in diabetic neuropathy". Nature Medicine 18 (6): 926–33. doi:10.1038/nm.2750. PMID 22581285. 
  11. ^ Kwakman PHS, te Velde AA, de Boer L, Vandenbroucke-Grauls CMJE, Zaat SAJ (2011). "Two major medicinal honeys have different mechanisms of bactericidal activity". PLoS ONE 6 (3): e17709. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0017709. PMC 3048876. PMID 21394213. 
  12. ^ Molan, P. (2008). "An explanation of why the MGO level in manuka honey does not show the antibacterial activity". New Zealand BeeKeeper 16 (4): 11–13.