Adverse effects of excessive leucine intake depend on dietary protein intake: a transcriptomic analysis to identify useful biomarkers

J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2013;59(1):45-55. doi: 10.3177/jnsv.59.45.


The present study was conducted to identify reliable gene biomarkers for the adverse effects of excessive leucine (Leu) in Sprague-Dawley rats by DNA microarray. It has long been known that the adverse effects of excessive amino acid intake depend on dietary protein levels. Male rats were divided into 12 groups (n=6) and fed for 1 wk a diet containing low (6%), moderate (12%) or high (40%) protein. Different levels of Leu (0, 2, 4, and 8%) were added to the diets. Consumption of diets containing more than 4% Leu in 6% protein resulted in growth retardation and reduced liver weight, whereas the administration of the same dose of Leu with 12% or 40% protein did not affect them. By a process of systematic data extraction, 6 candidate gene markers were identified. The liver gene expression data obtained from another experiment with 0, 2, 3, 4, and 8% Leu in a low-protein diet was used to examine the validity of these biomarker candidates with receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis. All of AUC values of the biomarker candidates were more than 0.700, suggesting the effectiveness of the marker candidates as the indices of Leu excess. The cut-off value for the ROC curve of the gene-marker panel, which was obtained by multiple regression analysis of gene markers, indicated that Leu levels higher than 3% have adverse effects. In conclusion, the gene-marker panel suggested that for male rats dietary Leu supplementation of 2% is the NOAEL dose in low-protein (6%) diets.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Area Under Curve
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • DNA / analysis
  • Diet
  • Diet, Protein-Restricted*
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Energy Intake*
  • Gene Expression / drug effects
  • Genetic Markers
  • Growth / drug effects
  • Growth / genetics
  • Growth Disorders / etiology*
  • Growth Disorders / genetics
  • Growth Disorders / metabolism
  • Leucine / administration & dosage
  • Leucine / adverse effects*
  • Liver / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Microarray Analysis
  • Organ Size
  • ROC Curve
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reference Values
  • Regression Analysis
  • Transcriptome


  • Biomarkers
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Genetic Markers
  • DNA
  • Leucine