Context: In longitudinal studies of adults, elevated amino acid (AA) concentrations predicted future type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM).
Objective: The aim of the present investigation was to examine whether increased plasma AA concentrations are associated with impaired β-cell function relative to insulin sensitivity [i.e. disposition index (DI)], a predictor of T2DM development.
Design, setting, and participants: Metabolomic analysis for fasting plasma AAs was performed by tandem mass spectrometry in 139 normal-weight and obese adolescents with and without dysglycemia. First-phase insulin secretion was evaluated by a hyperglycemic (∼225 mg/dl) clamp and insulin sensitivity by a hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp. DI was calculated as the product of first-phase insulin and insulin sensitivity.
Results: DI was positively associated with branched-chain AAs (leucine/isoleucine and valine; r = 0.27 and 0.29, P = 0.001), neutrally transported AAs (phenylalanine and methionine; r = 0.30 and 0.35, P < 0.001), basic AAs (histidine and arginine; r = 0.28 and 0.23, P ≤ 0.007), serine (r = 0.35, P < 0.001), glycine (r = 0.26, P = 0.002), and branched-chain AAs-derived intermediates C3, C4, and C5 acylcarnitine (range r = 0.18-0.19, P ≤ 0.04).
Conclusion: In youth, increased plasma AA concentrations are not associated with a heightened metabolic risk profile for T2DM; rather, they are positively associated with β-cell function relative to insulin sensitivity. These contrasting observations between adults and youth may be a reflection of developmental differences along the lifespan dependent on the combined impact of the aging process together with the impact of progressive obesity.