Branched-chain amino acid supplementation promotes survival and supports cardiac and skeletal muscle mitochondrial biogenesis in middle-aged mice

Cell Metab. 2010 Oct 6;12(4):362-372. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2010.08.016.


Recent evidence points to a strong relationship between increased mitochondrial biogenesis and increased survival in eukaryotes. Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) have been shown to extend chronological life span in yeast. However, the role of these amino acids in mitochondrial biogenesis and longevity in mammals is unknown. Here, we show that a BCAA-enriched mixture (BCAAem) increased the average life span of mice. BCAAem supplementation increased mitochondrial biogenesis and sirtuin 1 expression in primary cardiac and skeletal myocytes and in cardiac and skeletal muscle, but not in adipose tissue and liver of middle-aged mice, and this was accompanied by enhanced physical endurance. Moreover, the reactive oxygen species (ROS) defense system genes were upregulated, and ROS production was reduced by BCAAem supplementation. All of the BCAAem-mediated effects were strongly attenuated in endothelial nitric oxide synthase null mutant mice. These data reveal an important antiaging role of BCAAs mediated by mitochondrial biogenesis in mammals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aging / drug effects
  • Amino Acids, Branched-Chain / administration & dosage
  • Amino Acids, Branched-Chain / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Longevity / drug effects*
  • Mice
  • Mitochondria, Heart / metabolism*
  • Mitochondria, Muscle / metabolism*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / ultrastructure
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type III
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Amino Acids, Branched-Chain
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type III