Short-term methionine deprivation improves metabolic health via sexually dimorphic, mTORC1-independent mechanisms

FASEB J. 2018 Jun;32(6):3471-3482. doi: 10.1096/fj.201701211R. Epub 2018 Jan 30.


Obesity and diabetes are major challenges to global health, and there is an urgent need for interventions that promote weight loss. Dietary restriction of methionine promotes leanness and improves metabolic health in mice and humans. However, poor long-term adherence to this diet limits its translational potential. In this study, we develop a short-term methionine deprivation (MD) regimen that preferentially reduces fat mass, restoring normal body weight and glycemic control to diet-induced obese mice of both sexes. The benefits of MD do not accrue from calorie restriction, but instead result from increased energy expenditure. MD promotes increased energy expenditure in a sex-specific manner, inducing the fibroblast growth factor (Fgf)-21-uncoupling protein (Ucp)-1 axis only in males. Methionine is an agonist of the protein kinase mechanistic target of rapamycin complex (mTORC)-1, which has been proposed to play a key role in the metabolic response to amino acid-restricted diets. In our study, we used a mouse model of constitutive hepatic mTORC1 activity and demonstrate that suppression of hepatic mTORC1 signaling is not required for the metabolic effects of MD. Our study sheds new light on the mechanisms by which dietary methionine regulates metabolic health and demonstrates the translational potential of MD for the treatment of obesity and type 2 diabetes.-Yu, D., Yang, S. E., Miller, B. R., Wisinski, J. A., Sherman, D. S., Brinkman, J. A., Tomasiewicz, J. L., Cummings, N. E., Kimple, M. E., Cryns, V. L., Lamming, D. W. Short-term methionine deprivation improves metabolic health via sexually dimorphic, mTORC1-independent mechanisms.

Keywords: Fgf21; amino acids; diabetes; dietary protein; obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caloric Restriction
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Female
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 1 / metabolism*
  • Methionine / deficiency*
  • Mice
  • Obesity / diet therapy
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Obesity / pathology
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Uncoupling Protein 1 / metabolism


  • Ucp1 protein, mouse
  • Uncoupling Protein 1
  • fibroblast growth factor 21
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors
  • Methionine
  • Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 1