Biomarkers for optimal requirements of amino acids by animals and humans

Front Biosci (Schol Ed). 2011 Jun 1;3(4):1298-307. doi: 10.2741/227.


Amino acids are building blocks of proteins and key regulators of nutrient metabolism in cells. However, excessive intake of amino acids can be toxic to the body. Therefore, it is important to precisely determine amino acid requirements by organisms. To date, none of the methods is completely satisfactory to generate comprehensive data on amino acid requirements of animals or humans. Because of many influencing factors, amino acid requirements remain a complex and controversial issue in nutrition that warrants further investigations. Benefiting from the rapid advances in the emerging omics technologies and bioinformatics, biomarker discovery shows great potential in obtaining in-depth understanding of regulatory networks in protein metabolism. This review summarizes the current approaches to assess amino acid requirements of animals and humans, as well as the recent development of biomarkers as potentially functional parameters for recommending requirements of individual amino acids in health and disease. Identification of biomarkers in plasma or serum, which is a noninvasive approach, holds great promise in rapidly advancing the field of protein nutrition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids, Essential / classification
  • Amino Acids, Essential / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Biomarkers / metabolism*
  • Dietary Proteins / analysis
  • Humans
  • Nutritional Requirements*
  • Species Specificity


  • Amino Acids, Essential
  • Biomarkers
  • Dietary Proteins