Last Updated: September 28 2022

Trehalose is a sugar which, on a cellular level, appears to have therapeutic mechanisms by regulating protein unfolding. Practically, its low oral absorption in its intact form paired with rapid digestion may preclude any benefits of oral intake.

Trehalose is most often used for


Trehalose is a disaccharide composed of glucose, differing from the dietary sugar known as maltose which is also comprised of two glucose molecules due to differing bonds. Trehalose is found mostly as a component of mushrooms in the diet, with limited exposure in the human diet otherwise.

It has been investigated for a variety of therapeutic purposes due to its ability to induce apoptosis (controlled cellular death) via an atypical mechanism, and in these therapeutic settings using trehalose injections it appears to be effective.

Unfortunately, not only is trehalose initially poorly absorbed from the intestines but within the intestinal wall there is an enzyme (trehalase) which can rapidly degrade trehalose into glucose. For the trehalose that bypasses this enzyme and gets absorbed, the threhalase present in the liver and the blood appears to finalize the digestion leaving little to no trehalose able to reach a cell and exert its therapeutic effects.

The only way to preserve the effects of trehalose is to avoid oral ingestion by applying the compound topically leading to the promise of trehalose in protecting cellular function being exclusive to the skin, eyes, and hair. It has already shown therapeutic promise for the treatment of dry eye symptoms when used as eye drops, with a potency greater than commercially available products.

What else is Trehalose known as?
Note that Trehalose is also known as:
  • (2 3S 4S 5R 6R)-2-(hydroxymethyl)-6-(2R 3R 4S 5S 6R)-3 4 5-trihydroxy-6-(hydroxymethyl)oxan-2-yloxyoxane-3 4 5-triol
  • D-trehalose
  • Alpha alpha trehalose
Examine Database: Trehalose
What works and what doesn't?

Unlock the full potential of Examine

Get started

Don't miss out on the latest research

3.^Sussich F1, Skopec C, Brady J, Cesàro AReversible dehydration of trehalose and anhydrobiosis: from solution state to an exotic crystalCarbohydr Res.(2001 Aug 30)
4.^Furuki T1, Oku K, Sakurai MThermodynamic, hydration and structural characteristics of alpha,alpha-trehaloseFront Biosci (Landmark Ed).(2009 Jan 1)
5.^Lee YY1, Hong SH, Lee YJ, Chung SS, Jung HS, Park SG, Park KSTauroursodeoxycholate (TUDCA), chemical chaperone, enhances function of islets by reducing ER stressBiochem Biophys Res Commun.(2010 Jul 9)
6.^Elbein AD1, Pan YT, Pastuszak I, Carroll DNew insights on trehalose: a multifunctional moleculeGlycobiology.(2003 Apr)
7.^Eroglu A1, Russo MJ, Bieganski R, Fowler A, Cheley S, Bayley H, Toner MIntracellular trehalose improves the survival of cryopreserved mammalian cellsNat Biotechnol.(2000 Feb)
8.^Castillo K1, Nassif M, Valenzuela V, Rojas F, Matus S, Mercado G, Court FA, van Zundert B, Hetz CTrehalose delays the progression of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis by enhancing autophagy in motoneuronsAutophagy.(2013 Sep)
11.^Sarkar S1, Davies JE, Huang Z, Tunnacliffe A, Rubinsztein DCTrehalose, a novel mTOR-independent autophagy enhancer, accelerates the clearance of mutant huntingtin and alpha-synucleinJ Biol Chem.(2007 Feb 23)
13.^Vidal RL1, Figueroa A, Court FA, Thielen P, Molina C, Wirth C, Caballero B, Kiffin R, Segura-Aguilar J, Cuervo AM, Glimcher LH, Hetz CTargeting the UPR transcription factor XBP1 protects against Huntington's disease through the regulation of FoxO1 and autophagyHum Mol Genet.(2012 May 15)
14.^Harris H1, Rubinsztein DCControl of autophagy as a therapy for neurodegenerative diseaseNat Rev Neurol.(2011 Dec 20)
16.^Lan DM1, Liu FT, Zhao J, Chen Y, Wu JJ, Ding ZT, Yue ZY, Ren HM, Jiang YP, Wang JEffect of trehalose on PC12 cells overexpressing wild-type or A53T mutant α-synucleinNeurochem Res.(2012 Sep)
17.^Krüger U1, Wang Y, Kumar S, Mandelkow EMAutophagic degradation of tau in primary neurons and its enhancement by trehaloseNeurobiol Aging.(2012 Oct)
18.^Tanaka M1, Machida Y, Niu S, Ikeda T, Jana NR, Doi H, Kurosawa M, Nekooki M, Nukina NTrehalose alleviates polyglutamine-mediated pathology in a mouse model of Huntington diseaseNat Med.(2004 Feb)
19.^Bergoz R, Bolte JP, Meyer zum BueschenfeldeTrehalose tolerance test. Its value as a test for malabsorptionScand J Gastroenterol.(1973)
20.^van Elburg RM1, Uil JJ, Kokke FT, Mulder AM, van de Broek WG, Mulder CJ, Heymans HSRepeatability of the sugar-absorption test, using lactulose and mannitol, for measuring intestinal permeability for sugarsJ Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr.(1995 Feb)
24.^Buts JP1, Stilmant C, Bernasconi P, Neirinck C, De Keyser NCharacterization of alpha,alpha-trehalase released in the intestinal lumen by the probiotic Saccharomyces boulardiiScand J Gastroenterol.(2008)
25.^Gudmand-Høyer E1, Fenger HJ, Skovbjerg H, Kern-Hansen P, Madsen PRTrehalase deficiency in GreenlandScand J Gastroenterol.(1988 Sep)
26.^Gudmand-Høyer E1, Skovbjerg HDisaccharide digestion and maldigestionScand J Gastroenterol Suppl.(1996)
27.^Eze LCPlasma trehalase activity and diabetes mellitusBiochem Genet.(1989 Oct)
28.^Chen W1, Zhang X, Zhang J, Chen J, Wang S, Wang Q, Qu JA murine model of dry eye induced by an intelligently controlled environmental systemInvest Ophthalmol Vis Sci.(2008 Apr)
29.^Chen W1, Zhang X, Liu M, Zhang J, Ye Y, Lin Y, Luyckx J, Qu JTrehalose protects against ocular surface disorders in experimental murine dry eye through suppression of apoptosisExp Eye Res.(2009 Sep)
33.^Matsuo T1, Tsuchida Y, Morimoto NTrehalose eye drops in the treatment of dry eye syndromeOphthalmology.(2002 Nov)