The Collaborative International Dictionary
n. (context biochemistry English) A disaccharide formed from two glucose units
Trehalose, also known as mycose or tremalose, is a natural alpha-linked disaccharide formed by an α,α-1,1-glucoside bond between two α- glucose units. In 1832, H.A.L. Wiggers discovered trehalose in an ergot of rye, and in 1859 Marcellin Berthelot isolated it from trehala manna, a substance made by weevils, and named it trehalose. It can be synthesised by bacteria, fungi, plants, and invertebrate animals. It is implicated in anhydrobiosis — the ability of plants and animals to withstand prolonged periods of desiccation. It has high water retention capabilities, and is used in food and cosmetics. The sugar is thought to form a gel phase as cells dehydrate, which prevents disruption of internal cell organelles, by effectively splinting them in position. Rehydration then allows normal cellular activity to be resumed without the major, lethal damage that would normally follow a dehydration/rehydration cycle. Trehalose is not an antioxidant, because it is a non-reducing sugar and does not contain nucleophilic groups in its molecule. However, it was reported to have antioxidant effects.
Extracting trehalose was once a difficult and costly process, but circa the year 2000, the Hayashibara company (Okayama, Japan) confirmed an inexpensive extraction technology from starch for mass production.
Trehalose is used in a broad spectrum of applications.