AKG (Alpha-ketoglutarate)


AKG is by far one of the most important molecules in dietary supply!

AKG is the abbreviation of Alpha-ketoglutaric acid, and the corresponding anion called Alpha-ketoglutarate (also called oxoglutarate or 2-oxoglutarate), is a key molecule in the famous Krebs cycle. It is located between isocitrate and succinyl coenzyme A. AKG is produced by the deamination of glutamate.

AKG has several important functions!

Krebs cycle: As was mentioned before, it is an intermediate in the cycle, and just before and after this molecule two (2) NADH are produced.

Amino acids production: AKG can easily be converted into glutamic acid, glutamine, arginine, proline, and other amino acids.[1],[2] All of these are very important, but glutamine stands out by far.[3]

AKG promotes the synthesis of Glutamine from glutamate by using ATP. Glutamine acts as a source of energy for lymphocytes and intestinal cells. The high importance is based on the fact that Glutamine is one of the most abundant amino acids in muscle groups, in blood plasma, spinal cord, and cerebrospinal fluid. Although glutamine is generated naturally by the body, its demand increases as a result of mental and physical stress. That is, the more stress a person endures, the greater the body's need for glutamine. Furthermore, its production decreases with age. In this sense, the consumption of AKG improves the biochemical quality of the human body, to lead a functional life over the years. And not only that, but it also helps to control lipid or "fat" levels.3,[4]

One of the reasons why the loss of muscle mass occurs is because the supply of glutamine is insufficient and the human body has to take them from proteins.

Another function for which it stands out is its role in regulating the acid-base balance, promoting the elimination of acid and maintaining bicarbonate. All of this helps to produce new skin cells and delay aging.

Nitrogen transporter: Another function of AKG is to combine with the nitrogen released by the cell, preventing nitrogen overload, being AKG one of the most important nitrogen carriers in all metabolic pathways. The free amino groups that come from amino acids join to AKG and are transported to the liver where the urea cycle takes place.

Most people are not aware that after a high protein intake, high levels of ammonia occur in the blood, and these must drop quickly because the urea cycle is altered, and the body needs to detoxify, and the AKG generates a detox route for this, including brain, tissues and fluids detox. 3,[5],[6]

Central Nervous System: AKG forms glutamate and this glutamate is decarboxylated and forms GABA, one of the 7 most important neurotransmitters.[7]


GABA is widely known for generating a calming effect and combating stress, fear, and anxiety.

In combination with molecular oxygen, AKG is one of the requirements for the hydroxylation of proline to produce hydroxyproline which is part of type I collagen, the most important collagen, it is considered the most abundant protein in the human body, it represents 25 % of the total body protein). Collagen is not a single molecule or a single compound as most people think. There are 28 types of collagens, and the main one is type I, which acts mainly in the connective tissues, that support, protect, and structure other tissues and organs.

Collagen type I, is one of the most important proteins in the human body!

Antioxidant: AKG decreases hydrogen peroxide levels in different cell cultures; in these cases, it disappears when converted into succinate.[8] This coincides with a significant increase in the lifespan of nematode worms, which means longevity.7

As a general review, it is considered strongly advisable to consume AKG to supplement the body's multiple daily needs and promote adequate aging, under optimal conditions.

PLEASE NOTE: Here at Pristine’s, we care about your health. Therefore, Pristine’s recommends that you consult with your doctor before embarking on any significant alterations in your eating habits, nutritional supplement intake, or exercise routine. Our blogs are not able, nor intended, to substitute for professional, personalized medical advice. We ask that you discuss any points of interest raised in these blogs with a trusted medical professional.

We wish you optimal longevity and health.

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About the Author

Dr. Jorge A. Gutierrez, Ph.D. Chemical Sciences

Dr. Gutierrez is a Chemist with experience in nanobiotechnology, nanomedicine, biochemistry, and analytical chemistry. Over the years he has been involved in the development of novel products and formulations for human health.




[1] Kristensen, NB., Jungvid, H., Fernández, JA., Pierzynowski, SG. (2002). Absorption and metabolism of alpha-ketoglutarate in growing pigs. J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl), 86, 239-245.

[2] Lambert, BD., Filip, R., Stoll, B., Junghans, P., Derno, M., Hennig, U., Souffrant, WB., Pierzynowski, S., Burrin, DG. (2006). First-pass metabolism limits the intestinal absorption of enteral alpha- ketoglutarate in young pigs. J Nutr., 136, 2779-2784.

[3] Shuai, C., Peng, B., Wenkai, R., Wei, G., Gang, L., Jie, Y., Jielin, D., Yinghui, L., Kang, Y., Ruilin, H., Bie, T., and Yulong, Y. (2017). Alpha-ketoglutarate (AKG) lowers body weight and affects intestinal innate immunity through influencing intestinal microbiota. Oncotarget., 8(24), 38184–38192.

[4] Velvizhi, S., Dakshayani, KB., Subramanian, P. (2002). Effects of alpha-ketoglutarate on antioxidants and lipid peroxidation products in rats treated with ammonium acetate. Nutrition., 18, 747–750.

[5] Yao, K., Yin, Y., Li, X., Xi, P., Wang, J., Lei, J., Hou, Y., Wu, G. (2012). Alpha-ketoglutarate inhibits glutamine degradation and enhances protein synthesis in intestinal porcine epithelial cells. Amino Acids., 42, 2491–500.

[6] Ott, P., Clemmesen, O., Larsen, FS. (2005). Cerebral metabolic disturbances in the brain during acute liver failure: from hyperammonemia to energy failure and proteolysis. Neurochemistry international, 47(1-2), 13-18.

[7] Chin, R., Fu, X., Pai, M. et al. (2014). The metabolite α-ketoglutarate extends lifespan by inhibiting ATP synthase and TOR. Nature, 510, 397–401.

[8] Long, L. and Halliwell, B. (2011). Artefacts in cell culture: α-Ketoglutarate can scavenge hydrogen peroxide generated by ascorbate and epigallocatechin gallate in cell culture media. Biochemical and biophysical research communications, 406(1), 20-24.


Images consulted in 2024-01-17 at www.unsplash.com.