Role of Essential Amino Acids in Age-Induced Bone Loss

Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Sep 24;23(19):11281. doi: 10.3390/ijms231911281.


Age-induced osteoporosis is a global problem. Essential amino acids (EAAs) work as an energy source and a molecular pathway modulator in bone, but their functions have not been systematically reviewed in aging bone. This study aimed to discuss the contribution of EAAs on aging bone from in vitro, in vivo, and human investigations. In aged people with osteoporosis, serum EAAs were detected changing up and down, without a well-established conclusion. The supply of EAAs in aged people either rescued or did not affect bone mineral density (BMD) and bone volume. In most signaling studies, EAAs were proven to increase bone mass. Lysine, threonine, methionine, tryptophan, and isoleucine can increase osteoblast proliferation, activation, and differentiation, and decrease osteoclast activity. Oxidized L-tryptophan promotes bone marrow stem cells (BMSCs) differentiating into osteoblasts. However, the oxidation product of tryptophan called kynurenine increases osteoclast activity, and enhances the differentiation of adipocytes from BMSCs. Taken together, in terms of bone minerals and volume, more views consider EAAs to have a positive effect on aging bone, but the function of EAAs in bone metabolism has not been fully demonstrated and more studies are needed in this area in the future.

Keywords: aging; bone mass; bone mineral density; essential amino acids.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Amino Acids, Essential / metabolism
  • Bone Density
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Humans
  • Isoleucine / metabolism
  • Kynurenine / metabolism
  • Lysine / metabolism
  • Methionine / metabolism
  • Osteoblasts / metabolism
  • Osteoporosis* / metabolism
  • Threonine / metabolism
  • Tryptophan* / metabolism


  • Amino Acids, Essential
  • Isoleucine
  • Threonine
  • Kynurenine
  • Tryptophan
  • Methionine
  • Lysine