Psychology Wiki

Assessment | Biopsychology | Comparative | Cognitive | Developmental | Language | Individual differences | Personality | Philosophy | Social |
Methods | Statistics | Clinical | Educational | Industrial | Professional items | World psychology |

Biological: Behavioural genetics · Evolutionary psychology · Neuroanatomy · Neurochemistry · Neuroendocrinology · Neuroscience · Psychoneuroimmunology · Physiological Psychology · Psychopharmacology (Index, Outline)

style="background: #F8EABA; text-align: center;" colspan="2" Galactose
CAS number 26566-61-0
PubChem 6036
MeSH Galactose
Molecular formula C6H12O6
Molar mass 180.08
Melting point

167 degrees C

style="background: #F8EABA; text-align: center;" colspan="2" Except where noted otherwise, data are given for
materials in their standard state
(at 25 °C, 100 kPa)

Infobox disclaimer and references

Galactose (Gal) (also called Brain Sugar) is a type of sugar which is less sweet than glucose and not very water-soluble. It is considered a nutritive sweetener because it has food energy.

Galactan is a polymer of the sugar galactose. It is found in hemicellulose and can be converted to galactose by hydrolysis.


It is found in dairy products, in sugar beets and other gums and mucilages.

It is also synthesized by the body, where it forms part of glycolipids and glycoproteins in several tissues.

Relationship to lactose[]

Galactose is a monosaccharide constituent, together with glucose, of the disaccharide lactose. The hydrolysis of lactose to glucose and galactose is catalyzed by the enzyme lactase, a β-galactosidase. In the human body, glucose is changed into galactose in order to enable the mammary glands to secrete lactose.

Galactose and glucose are produced by hydrolysis of lactose by ß-galactosidase. This enzyme is produced by the lac operon in Escherichia coli (E. coli).

Clinical significance[]

Two studies have suggested a possible link between galactose in milk and ovarian cancer.[1][2] Other studies failed to show such a link.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

There are some ongoing studies which suggest that Galactose may have a role in treatment of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (a kidney disease resulting in kidney failure and proteinuria).[How to reference and link to summary or text] This effect is likely to be a result of binding of Galactose to FSGS factor.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

Structure and isomerism[]

The first and last -OH groups point the same way and the second and third -OH groups point the other way. D-Galactose has the same configuration at its penultimate carbon as D-glyceraldehyde. Galactose is an optical isomer of glucose.

Liver galactose metabolism[]

In the liver, galactose is converted to glucose 6-phosphate in the following reactions:

       galacto-                uridyl                phosphogluco-
        kinase               transferase                mutase
   gal --------> gal 1 P ------------------> glc 1 P -----------> glc 6 P
                            ^           \
                           /             v
                        UDP-glc       UDP-gal
                           ^             /

Metabolic disorders[]

There are 3 important disorders involving galactose:

Name Enzyme Description
Galactosemia Galactokinase Causes cataracts and mental retardation. If a galactose-free diet starts sufficiently early, the cataracts will regress without complications however neurological damage is permanent.
UDPgalactose-4-epimerase deficiency UDPgalactose-4-epimerase Is extremely rare (only 2 reported cases). It causes nerve deafness.
Galactose-1-phosphate uridyl transferase deficiency Galactose-1-phosphate uridyl transferase Is the most problematic, as galactose-free diets do not have considerable long-term effects.


  1. Cramer D (1989). Lactase persistence and milk consumption as determinants of ovarian cancer risk. Am J Epidemiol 130 (5): 904-10.
  2. Cramer D, Harlow B, Willett W, Welch W, Bell D, Scully R, Ng W, Knapp R (1989). Galactose consumption and metabolism in relation to the risk of ovarian cancer. Lancet 2 (8654): 66-71.

External links[]

Template:Biochemical families
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).