Spectrophometric assay for measuring branched-chain amino acid concentrations: application for measuring the sensitivity of protein metabolism to insulin

Anal Biochem. 1996 Aug 15;240(1):48-53. doi: 10.1006/abio.1996.0329.


Plasma amino acid concentrations fall during insulin infusion. Amino acid concentrations can be maintained using an infusion of amino acids if their plasma concentration can be determined within a few minutes. We developed a spectrophometric assay which determines the total concentration of all three branched-chain amino acids in plasma within 1 min. The enzyme leucine dehydrogenase oxidatively deaminates leucine, isoleucine, and valine, with stoichiometric reduction of NAD that is measured using a spectrophotometer. The assay was developed in both a kinetic and end-point format. For the kinetic assay the buffer conditions were formulated to obtain equivalent rates with all three amino acids so that it could be used in samples containing unknown mixtures. For the end-point assay additional enzyme was added so that an end-point could be reached within 1 min. The application of the kinetic assay for "clamping" the branched-chain amino acids during hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamps in humans is demonstrated.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Oxidoreductases / metabolism
  • Amino Acids, Branched-Chain / blood*
  • Blood Proteins / metabolism*
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Enzyme Stability
  • Humans
  • Hyperinsulinism / blood
  • Insulin / therapeutic use*
  • Isoleucine / blood
  • Kinetics
  • Leucine / blood
  • Leucine Dehydrogenase
  • NAD / metabolism
  • Spectrophotometry
  • Valine / blood


  • Amino Acids, Branched-Chain
  • Blood Proteins
  • Insulin
  • Isoleucine
  • NAD
  • Amino Acid Oxidoreductases
  • Leucine Dehydrogenase
  • Leucine
  • Valine