Cutting back on the essentials: Can manipulating intake of specific amino acids modulate health and lifespan?

Ageing Res Rev. 2017 Oct;39:87-95. doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2016.08.007. Epub 2016 Aug 26.


With few exceptions, nutritional and dietary interventions generally impact upon both old-age quality of life and longevity. The life prolonging effects, commonly observed with dietary restriction reportedly are linked to alterations in protein intake and specifically limiting the dietary intake of certain essential amino acids. There is however a paucity of data methodically evaluating the various essential amino acids on health- and lifespan and the mechanisms involved. Rodent diets containing either lower methionine content, or tryptophan, than that found in commercially available chow, appear to elicit beneficial effects. It is unclear whether all of these favorable effects associated with restricted intake of methionine and tryptophan are due to their specific unique properties or if restriction of other essential amino acids, or proteins in general, may produce similar results. Considerably more work remains to be done to elucidate the mechanisms by which limiting these vital molecules may delay the onset of age-associated diseases and improve quality of life at older ages.

Keywords: Delayed aging; Dwarf mice; Healthspan; Methionine restriction; Naked mole-rat; Tryptophan.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Amino Acids / administration & dosage
  • Animals
  • Caloric Restriction
  • Diet
  • Diet, Protein-Restricted
  • Healthy Aging
  • Humans
  • Longevity*
  • Methionine / metabolism*
  • Quality of Life
  • Tryptophan*


  • Amino Acids
  • Tryptophan
  • Methionine