Thirteen-week oral toxicity study of branched-chain amino acids in rats

Int J Toxicol. 2004 Mar-Apr;23(2):119-26. doi: 10.1080/10915810490444424.


Branched-chain amino acids (L-isoleucine, L-valine, and L-leucine) are being increasingly used in sport supplements. This study evaluated toxicological and behavioral effects of L-isoleucine (Ile), L-valine (Val), and L-leucine (Leu) during a dosing study with male and female Sprague-Dawley rats. The amino acids were incorporated into a standard diet at doses equal to 1.25%, 2.5%, and 5.0% (w/w). A control group of rats received a standard diet. All diets were administered ad libitum for 13 consecutive weeks. To examine stability of any potential effects, the administration period was followed by a 5-week recovery period, during which only the standard diet was provided to all animals. No significant, dose-related effects on body weight were found in rats fed a Leu- and Ile-supplemented diet. Val mixed into a diet at 5.0% (w/w) decreased slightly, but significantly body weight gain in females, but not males. Ile (5.0% w/w) affected the urine electrolytes, protein, ketone bodies, urine glucose, and urobilinogen in both genders, yet the observed changes remained mostly within the range observed in controls. The random findings in hepatology and ophthalmology at the 13-week sacrifice were not considered toxicologically relevant to effects of the tested amino acids. No significant changes in organ weights were recorded. We estimate the no-observed-adverse-effect level (NOAEL) for Ile at 2.5% for both genders (male, 1.565 +/- 0.060 g/kg/day; females, 1.646 +/- 0.095 g/kg/day), Val at 5.0% for males (3.225 +/- 0.135 g/kg/day) and 2.5% for females (1.853 +/- 0.060 g/kg/day), and Leu at 5.0% for both genders (males, 3.333 +/- 0.101 g/kg/day: females, 3.835 +/- 0.257 g/kg/day).

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Amino Acids, Branched-Chain / toxicity*
  • Animals
  • Blood Chemical Analysis
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Dietary Supplements / toxicity*
  • Female
  • Hematologic Tests
  • Male
  • Organ Size / drug effects
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sex Factors
  • Toxicity Tests, Chronic
  • Urinalysis


  • Amino Acids, Branched-Chain