Regulation of metabolic health by essential dietary amino acids

Mech Ageing Dev. 2019 Jan;177:186-200. doi: 10.1016/j.mad.2018.07.004. Epub 2018 Jul 22.


Although the beneficial effects of calorie restriction (CR) on health and aging were first observed a century ago, the specific macronutrients and molecular processes that mediate the effect of CR have been heavily debated. Recently, it has become clear that dietary protein plays a key role in regulating both metabolic health and longevity, and that both the quantity and quality - the specific amino acid composition - of dietary protein mediates metabolic health. Here, we discuss recent findings in model organisms ranging from yeast to mice and humans regarding the influence of dietary protein as well as specific amino acids on metabolic health, and the physiological and molecular mechanisms which may mediate these effects. We then discuss recent findings which suggest that the restriction of specific dietary amino acids may be a potent therapy to treat or prevent metabolic syndrome. Finally, we discuss the potential for dietary restriction of specific amino acids - or pharmaceuticals which harness these same mechanisms - to promote healthy aging.

Keywords: Amino acids; BCAAs; Diabetes; Obesity; Protein restriction.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids, Essential / therapeutic use*
  • Animals
  • Caloric Restriction*
  • Dietary Proteins / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Longevity*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / metabolism
  • Metabolic Syndrome / pathology
  • Metabolic Syndrome / prevention & control*
  • Mice
  • Models, Biological*


  • Amino Acids, Essential
  • Dietary Proteins