The role of microbial amino acid metabolism in host metabolism

Nutrients. 2015 Apr 16;7(4):2930-46. doi: 10.3390/nu7042930.


Disruptions in gut microbiota composition and function are increasingly implicated in the pathogenesis of obesity, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes mellitus. The functional output of the gut microbiota, including short-chain fatty acids and amino acids, are thought to be important modulators underlying the development of these disorders. Gut bacteria can alter the bioavailability of amino acids by utilization of several amino acids originating from both alimentary and endogenous proteins. In turn, gut bacteria also provide amino acids to the host. This could have significant implications in the context of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes mellitus, conditions associated with elevated systemic concentrations of certain amino acids, in particular the aromatic and branched-chain amino acids. Moreover, several amino acids released by gut bacteria can serve as precursors for the synthesis of short-chain fatty acids, which also play a role in the development of obesity. In this review, we aim to compile the available evidence on the contribution of microbial amino acids to host amino acid homeostasis, and to assess the role of the gut microbiota as a determinant of amino acid and short-chain fatty acid perturbations in human obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids, Branched-Chain / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / microbiology
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile / metabolism*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Obesity / microbiology


  • Amino Acids, Branched-Chain
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile