Image by Gidon Pico from Pixabay
Peptides are short sequences of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. They have a myriad of potential functions within the body, often serving as signaling molecules to turn on genes, triggering protein synthesis. What those proteins may do varies by the peptide signal sent. Some may have anti-aging, some growth, others immunomodulatory functions.
Given my practice, which consists largely of chronic disease, I’m most intrigued by the immunomodulatory potential of peptides—one in particular.
Thymosin alpha-1 Peptide
The thymus gland, behind the sternum and between the lungs, is the site of maturation and release of T-cells (the cytotoxic, the helper T cells and the T Regulatory cells), all of which are critical to specific immunity. Thymosin alpha-1 (TA1) is the peptide that signals the thymus to do this.
Given the importance of TA1 in the process of T-cell maturation and release, it stands to reason that this signaling peptide may be very useful in cases of immune insufficiency, chronic infection, or cancer. This is particularly true, since serum levels of TA1 have been shown to be significantly lower for those with chronic infection or autoimmunity, such as hepatitis, psoriatic arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and sepsis.
TA1 has been studied for its ability to restore immune homeostasis in a number of cases:
- In sepsis, TA1 has been shown to help restore a dysregulated immune system.
- TA1 has demonstrated efficacy in acute respiratory viral infection and lung infections.
- A number of studies indicate that it may have anti-cancer potential.
- It has been shown to reduce inflammation, perhaps be decreasing inflammatory mediators (like inflammatory cytokines).
- It has been shown to increase sperm function, indicating potential applications in male fertility.
A number of sources state that TA1 can be helpful for Lyme disease, but I was unable to find any actual studies to back this claim. However, it stands to reason, given the importance of adaptive or specific immunity in any kind of chronic infection.
While many who suffer from CIRS (Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome), and especially toxic mold, would likely benefit from increased immune homeostasis, this study suggests that TA1’s anti-cancer properties may rely upon suppression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF): helpful for cancer, but may not be helpful for those with CIRS, as many of them have low VEGF already.
TA1 has also been shown to bind to VIP receptors—though to what end is as yet unclear. VIP is also often low in CIRS patients, so until we know more about the mechanism of how TA1 affects VIP, I’d at least suggest checking VIP and VEGF levels before using TA1 in cases of mold illness.
Beyond that, no toxicity or safety issues have been noted for TA1.
Peptides can be prescribed through a compounding pharmacy, and are generally dosed via injections, nasal sprays, creams, or as a capsule.