Of Older Mice and Men: Branched-Chain Amino Acids and Body Composition

Nutrients. 2019 Aug 13;11(8):1882. doi: 10.3390/nu11081882.


Protein and branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) intake are associated with changes in circulating BCAAs and influence metabolic health in humans and rodents. However, the relationship between BCAAs and body composition in both species is unclear, with many studies questioning the translatability of preclinical findings to humans. Here, we assessed and directly compared the relationship between circulating BCAAs, body composition, and intake in older mice and men. Body weight and body fat were positively associated with circulating BCAA levels in both mouse and human, which remained significant after adjustments for age, physical activity, number of morbidities, smoking status, and source of income in the human cohort. Macronutrient intakes were similarly associated with circulating BCAA levels; however, the relationship between protein intake and BCAAs were more pronounced in the mice. These findings indicate that the relationship between circulating BCAAs, body composition, and intakes are comparable in both species, suggesting that the mouse is an effective model for examining the effects of BCAAs on body composition in older humans.

Keywords: ageing; body composition; branched-chain amino acids; humans; mice.

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / blood*
  • Amino Acids, Branched-Chain / blood*
  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Body Composition*
  • Body Weight
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Sex Factors
  • Species Specificity
  • Time Factors


  • Amino Acids, Branched-Chain
  • Biomarkers