Purpose: Identification of dietary factors involved in the development and progression of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is relevant to the current epidemics of the disease. Dietary amino acids appear to play a key role in the onset and progression of NAFLD. The aim of this study was to analyze potential associations between specific dietary amino acids and variables related to glucose metabolism and hepatic status in adults with overweight/obesity and NAFLD.
Methods: One hundred and twelve individuals from the Fatty Liver in Obesity (FLiO) study were evaluated. Liver assessment was carried out by ultrasonography, magnetic resonance imaging and analysis of biochemical parameters. Dietary amino acid intake (aromatic amino acids (AAA); branched-chain amino acids (BCAA); sulfur amino acids (SAA)) was estimated by means of a validated 137-item food frequency questionnaire.
Results: Higher consumption of these amino acids was associated with worse hepatic health. Multiple adjusted regression models confirmed that dietary AAA, BCAA and SAA were positively associated with liver fat content. AAA and BCAA were positively associated with liver iron concentration. Regarding ferritin levels, a positive association was found with BCAA. Dietary intake of these amino acids was positively correlated with glucose metabolism (glycated hemoglobin, triglyceride and glucose index) although the significance disappeared when potential confounders were included in the model.
Conclusion: These findings suggest that the consumption of specific dietary amino acids might negatively impact on liver status and, to a lesser extent on glucose metabolism in subjects with overweight/obesity and NAFLD. A control of specific dietary amino acid composition should be considered in the management of NAFLD and associated insulin resistance. NCT03183193; June 2017.
Keywords: Aromatic amino acids; Branched-chain amino acids; Fatty liver; Protein metabolism; Sulfur amino acids; Type 2 diabetes.