3-hydroxybutyrate (THB) is an important constituent of protein and plays a significant role in the health of human beings. It is the main metabolite of acetylcholine, a chemical neurotransmitter that links brain receptors with different brain areas to trigger impulses. Because of this, THB has many important functions in the body and the brain. It is also the main inhibitor at the reductase enzyme, reductase alpha, that actually breaks down acetylcholine in the brain.
When taken in the body, it helps to break down fatty acids that accumulate in the liver (fatty acids are molecules that contain hydrogen and have several carbon atoms). Acetylcholine is released when fatty acids combine with the receptor’s amino acid residues and thus entering the brain through the blood stream. To break down acetylcholine in the liver, 3-hydroxybutyrate is secreted and then combined with acetylcholine in the nerve cells and synapses that control motor functions. The breakdown of acetylcholine triggers severe headaches, nausea and vomiting as well as other unpleasant symptoms.
One of the major ways that 3-hydroxybutyrate is used in the body is to induce fatty acid oxidation. Fatty acids are needed for energy production as well as protein synthesis in the body. In fact, the body cannot produce its own proteins without fatty acid oxidation. This is why people who suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome and other long term conditions often have low levels of acetylcholine in their bodies. The treatment of these people is often around the use of oral acetylcholines or injections into the muscles that are vital to nerve function.
3-hydroxybutyrate has a unique property that sets it apart from other acetoacetate and lactic acid forming substances. It is structurally very similar to acetic acid but lacks a carbon residue at the end of the peptide chain. This means that instead of breaking down carbohydrates and starches like other substances do, 3-hydroxybutyrate breaks down fat. It does this rather easily as it can dissolve in fatty acid solutions just as easily as water. That means that it is great at clearing out bodily stored fat and turning it into energy.
Patients taking acetoacetate therapy who also take 3-hydroxybutyrate sometimes notice that their symptoms are reduced. This is because acetoacetate feeds directly into the liver fatty acid membranes, which in turn cause inflammation. The body ends up producing more of the substance in order to deal with the toxicity and hence the symptoms disappear. This is why patients taking acetoacetate for liver disease frequently switch to this new alternative along with the same treatments; it seems to help with the overall detoxification.
The metabolic pathways involving the aceto-acids in our body that generate 3-hydroxybutyrate do not remain active in some people. This leads to the release of additional nevirapine, which in turn stimulates the pathway even more. As a result the patient gets a greater toxic effect from aceto-acids. For these reasons and because there is no significant change in liver function taking 3-hydroxybutyrate for liver disease is safe.