Plasma amino acid concentrations in elderly patients with protein energy malnutrition

Age Ageing. 1997 Nov;26(6):457-62. doi: 10.1093/ageing/26.6.457.


Objective: to compare amino acid concentrations in healthy and malnourished elderly patients.

Method: plasma amino acid concentrations were examined in 24 men and women (80-100 years of age) with protein energy malnutrition (PEM) and compared with those of 44 healthy, similarly-aged controls. Plasma samples were determined by using cation exchange columns with ninhydrin detection in an high performance liquid chromatography system.

Results: essential amino acid and non-essential amino acid plasma concentrations were significantly decreased in PEM (0.01 < P < 0.0001). Branched-chain amino acids and urea cycle amino acid plasma concentrations fell significantly (P < 0.0001). Plasma concentrations of alanine and glutamic acid + glutamine were also significantly reduced (P < 0.0001).

Conclusions: in underweight elderly patients, the plasma amino acid pattern reflects the severity of the metabolic disturbance.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alanine / blood
  • Amino Acids / blood*
  • Amino Acids, Branched-Chain / blood
  • Amino Acids, Essential / blood
  • Body Height
  • Body Weight
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Female
  • Glutamic Acid / blood
  • Glutamine / blood
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Protein-Energy Malnutrition / blood*


  • Amino Acids
  • Amino Acids, Branched-Chain
  • Amino Acids, Essential
  • Glutamine
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Alanine