Peptides for Autoimmunity & Healing – Thymosin Alpha 1, Thymosin Beta 4, Thymulin, Thymogen

Peptides for Autoimmunity & Healing – Thymosin Alpha 1, Thymosin Beta 4, Thymulin, Thymogen

Most people know someone with an autoimmune disorder, especially since “50 million Americans have one or more autoimmune diseases” (Madison, 2020). Autoimmune disorders are chronic conditions that can affect various parts of the body, including the skin, joints, organs, and other systems. There are over 100 recognized autoimmune disorders, with some of the most common being Type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, lupus, thyroid diseases (i.e. Graves’ disease and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis) (Orbai, 2023). The terms “autoimmune disorder” and “autoimmune disease” are often used interchangeably but generally refer to the same concept. Both terms describe conditions in which the immune system mistakenly targets and attacks healthy cells, tissues, or organs within the body and can cause inflammation, fatigue, pain, skin conditions, fever, swollen gland, and abdominal pain or digestive issues. Each autoimmune disorder has its own unique characteristics, symptoms, and treatment protocols. There are many causes of autoimmune disorders, including genetic, environmental, and immunological factors. These can be exacerbated due to inflammation, toxins, sleep quality, stress, diet, and other environmental and other factors. Ways that autoimmune disorders can be mitigated are through a healthy lifestyle that includes a good diet, supplements, holistic health and medicine modalities, quality sleep, stress management, a sense of connection to community, or a faith based system of belief  (Micozzi, 2015).

One modality that is an excellent option for autoimmune conditions is the use of peptides, specifically Thymosin Alpha 1 and Thymosin Beta 4 as well as Thymulin, and Thymogen. Dr. Seeds (2020) notes that TA1 and T4B are “master peptides [that] work against the inflammatory state of senescent cells.” Thymosin Alpha 1, also known as TA 1 or Tα1, is a synthetic peptide derived from the naturally occurring thymosin hormone. It has many mechanisms of actions in our body. First, it functions as a senolytic agent, so called because it can induce death of senescent cells, which support apoptosis in the lifecycle of a cell. Second, it “upregulates glutathione, promotes and improves cellular redox, and initiatives IL10 transcription, improving senomodulation”  (Seeds, 2020). Third, it can help natural killer (NK) cells find senescent cells when they are hiding, which helps to modulate the immune response.  Fourth, it augments T-cells by enhancing their function and promoting regulatory T cell activity (Ancell et al., 2001). Fifth, it helps both the innate and acquired immune system in multiple ways that restores homeostasis. By balancing the immune response, Thymosin Alpha 1 helps regulate the abnormal immune reactions seen in autoimmune disorders. It is not only immunomodulatory, but it also has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties. It can inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and promote the secretion of anti-inflammatory cytokines, helping to reduce inflammation associated with autoimmune disorders (Xet al., 2019). Clinical studies have shown efficacy in autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and multiple sclerosis.

The second “master peptide” for inflammation is Thymosin Beta 4, also known as TB4 or Tβ1. This is a naturally occurring peptide hormone originating in the thymus and is involved in various biological processes. TB4 has immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as tissue-protective properties. Seeds (2020) notes that “TB4 is a powerful agent for stopping nuclear factor kappa beta (NF-kB) from transcribing pro-inflammatory cytokines, and so on, this helping to limit the number of bad messengers the senescence signature sends out.” In addition, Thymosin Beta 4 can help regulate the function of immune cells, such as T cells and macrophages, and modulate the production of cytokines (Choi et al., 2023). These immunomodulatory properties are bolstered by TB4’s anti-inflammatory properties. It can inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as TNF-α and IL-1β, and promote the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines, such as IL-10 (Qiu et al., 2011) . By reducing inflammation, TB4 helps contribute to the management of autoimmune disorders where inflammation plays a significant role. Additional modes of action include upregulating actin, a cell-building protein which helps muscle development and health cell function, and having a low molecular weight that allows it to travel directly to the site of an injury in the body.

Thymulin, previously known as FTS (for facteur thymique sérique), is a naturally occurring peptide hormone that is also produced in the thymus gland. Thymulin is involved in the regulation of immune cell function and the maturation of T cells, which play a central role in the immune response. It has been found to modulate the activity of T cells and influence their differentiation and proliferation (Yan et al., 2017).  By regulating T cell function, Thymulin helps in maintaining immune homeostasis and preventing abnormal immune responses seen in autoimmune disorders. Clinical studies have shown promise for various autoimmune disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (an animal version of multiple sclerosis) (Faure et al., 1984) (Safieh-Garabedian et al., 1993) (Lunin et al., 2013). Thymulin also has an analgesic effect, which is very helpful since most autoimmune conditions also cause pain (Safieh-Garabedian er al., 2019).

Last but not least is Thymogen, also spelled Thymagen or written as Tg, another peptide that originates in the thymus and is a “dipeptide consisting of L-glutamic acid and tryptophan…[and] a broad-spectrum bio-regulator, has an affinity for membrane thymocyte receptors and activates intracellular biochemical processes in immunocompetent cells” (Okunevichet al., 2020). In this way, it acts as an antioxidant to help modulate the cellular and immune response. Additionally, it is “conducive to normalization of lymphocyte counts, absolute counts of T and B lymphocytes, increase of T lymphocyte functional activity” (Tsvelev et al., 1992). This peptide is widely used to help with cell regeneration and the immune system.

All four of the peptides described above, Thymosin Alpha 1, Thymosin Beta 4, Thymulin, and Thymogen, are extremely helpful for those who have autoimmune disorders, as well as for general healing since they support the cell and immune function, and have anti-inflammatory properties.


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About the author: Mary Genevieve Carty, MS, MHEd holds Masters degrees in Complementary and Integrative Health as well as Higher Education and is currently a doctoral student in Health Science at George Washington University’s College of Medicine and Health Science.  She is passionate about holistic health and wellness, and has additional training in teaching, Reiki, and Tapping/ Emotional Freedom Technique. Her research interests include resiliency, psychoneuroimmunology, neuroplastic pain, placebo/ nocebo effect, and bioenergy therapies.  The views she expresses are her own, and do not reflect any affiliation.

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Medically reviewed by Dr. Stephen Matta, DO, MBA CAQSM and Mary Anne Matta, MS, MA, LAC

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