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What Are Peptides and Its Classes?

Peptides are substances naturally produced in our body that can also be synthesized in the laboratory. These molecules are used to fight infections, inflammation and reconstruction of tissues such as muscle, for example.

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Because they are very complex and diverse molecules, they have many beneficial functions for our body, which involve the production of collagen, hormones and muscles, and many other benefits. However, there is a great discussion about the use of peptides as a dietary supplement mainly in relation to the practice of physical activities and sports.

Peptides – What are they?

What are peptides? A peptide is a set of two or more amino acids, which are the precursors of proteins, linked via a specific bond called a peptide bond. For a protein to be formed in the body, a junction of at least 50 amino acids linked together must occur.

Thus, in addition to performing various functions in the body, peptides are essential compounds for protein synthesis in the body.

Peptides vs. Proteins

Peptides and proteins are not the same thing. The basic unit of formation is the same: amino acids. However, a compound is a peptide when it has a maximum of 50 amino acids linked together. Only when we have more than 50 amino acids together is a protein formed.

There are more than 7,000 peptides identified in nature and many others have been synthesized in the laboratory. This gives an idea of how important peptides are in the research and development of new products, especially drugs, supplements and cosmetics.

In the pharmaceutical industry, for example, peptides can be obtained naturally or synthetically to help patients with impaired immune function and difficulties in hormone production.

Because peptides are made of amino acids, it is necessary to eat protein through the diet that will be broken down by specific enzymes in the body to provide essential amino acids for our body. However, as we get older, dietary changes, stress, and physical changes may occur that may hinder the production and production of some essential amino acids, suppressing the production of peptides. In these cases, supplementation with specific peptides may be required.

Peptide classes

Peptides are classified into groups based on how they are produced. There are several classes that include milk peptides, peptones, ribosomal peptides, non-ribosomal peptides, and peptide fragments.

  1. Milk Peptides: These are peptides made from milk, which is a protein rich drink. They are formed when milk proteins pass digestive enzymes that break down milk components or when milk is fermented causing lactobacilli to form proteases. According to scientific studies, this class of peptides seems to have positive effects for people with hypertension.
  2. Peptones: Peptones are formed by hydrolysis of a protein. This is a partial breakdown when protein comes into contact with water. This class of peptides has several applications in microbiology.
  3. Ribosomal Peptides:  These peptides are formed on the ribosome through a messenger RNA (mRNA) translation process that is responsible for transferring information from DNA to the cytoplasm of cells.
  4. Non-ribosomal peptides: Non-ribosomal peptides are produced by microorganisms present in our body such as bacteria and fungi.
  5. Peptide Fragments:  Finally, peptide fragments are formed by enzymatic degradation processes done in the laboratory or naturally occurring in nature.