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      Plasma free amino acid profiles evaluate risk of metabolic syndrome, diabetes, dyslipidemia, and hypertension in a large Asian population

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          Recently, the association of plasma free amino acid (PFAA) profile and lifestyle-related diseases has been reported. However, few studies have been reported in large Asian populations, about the usefulness of PFAAs for evaluating disease risks. We examined the ability of PFAA profiles to evaluate lifestyle-related diseases in so far the largest Asian population.


          We examined plasma concentrations of 19 amino acids in 8589 Japanese subjects, and determined the association with variables associated with obesity, blood glucose, lipid, and blood pressure. We also evaluated the PFAA indexes that reflect visceral fat obesity and insulin resistance. The contribution of single PFAA level and relevant PFAA indexes was also examined in the risk assessment of lifestyle-related diseases.


          Of the 19 amino acids, branched-chain amino acids and aromatic amino acids showed association with obesity and lipid variables. The PFAA index related to visceral fat obesity showed relatively higher correlation with variables than that of any PFAA. In the evaluation of lifestyle-related disease risks, the odds ratios of the PFAA index related to visceral fat obesity or insulin resistance with the diseases were higher than most of those of individual amino acid levels even after adjusting for potential confounding factors. The association pattern of the indexes and PFAA with each lifestyle-related disease was distinct.


          We confirmed the usefulness of PFAA profiles and indexes as markers for evaluating the risks of lifestyle-related diseases, including diabetes mellitus, metabolic syndrome, dyslipidemia, and hypertension in a large Asian population.

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          Most cited references 18

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          Type 2 diabetes in East Asians: similarities and differences with populations in Europe and the United States

          There is an epidemic of diabetes in Asia. Type 2 diabetes develops in East Asian patients at a lower mean body mass index (BMI) compared with those of European descent. At any given BMI, East Asians have a greater amount of body fat and a tendency to visceral adiposity. In Asian patients, diabetes develops at a younger age and is characterized by early β cell dysfunction in the setting of insulin resistance, with many requiring early insulin treatment. The increasing proportion of young-onset and childhood type 2 diabetes is posing a particular threat, with these patients being at increased risk of developing diabetic complications. East Asian patients with type 2 diabetes have a higher risk of developing renal complications than Europeans and, with regard to cardiovascular complications, a predisposition for developing strokes. In addition to cardiovascular–renal disease, cancer is emerging as the other main cause of mortality. While more research is needed to explain these interethnic differences, urgent and concerted actions are needed to raise awareness, facilitate early diagnosis, and encourage preventive strategies to combat these growing disease burdens.
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            Branched-Chain and Aromatic Amino Acids Are Predictors of Insulin Resistance in Young Adults

            OBJECTIVE Branched-chain and aromatic amino acids are associated with the risk for future type 2 diabetes; however, the underlying mechanisms remain elusive. We tested whether amino acids predict insulin resistance index in healthy young adults. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS Circulating isoleucine, leucine, valine, phenylalanine, tyrosine, and six additional amino acids were quantified in 1,680 individuals from the population-based Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study (baseline age 32 ± 5 years; 54% women). Insulin resistance was estimated by homeostasis model assessment (HOMA) at baseline and 6-year follow-up. Amino acid associations with HOMA of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) and glucose were assessed using regression models adjusted for established risk factors. We further examined whether amino acid profiling could augment risk assessment of insulin resistance (defined as 6-year HOMA-IR >90th percentile) in early adulthood. RESULTS Isoleucine, leucine, valine, phenylalanine, and tyrosine were associated with HOMA-IR at baseline and for men at 6-year follow-up, while for women only leucine, valine, and phenylalanine predicted 6-year HOMA-IR (P < 0.05). None of the other amino acids were prospectively associated with HOMA-IR. The sum of branched-chain and aromatic amino acid concentrations was associated with 6-year insulin resistance for men (odds ratio 2.09 [95% CI 1.38–3.17]; P = 0.0005); however, including the amino acid score in prediction models did not improve risk discrimination. CONCLUSIONS Branched-chain and aromatic amino acids are markers of the development of insulin resistance in young, normoglycemic adults, with most pronounced associations for men. These findings suggest that the association of branched-chain and aromatic amino acids with the risk for future diabetes is at least partly mediated through insulin resistance.
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              Emerging perspectives on essential amino acid metabolism in obesity and the insulin-resistant state.

               David Adams (2011)
              Dysregulation of insulin action is most often considered in the context of impaired glucose homeostasis, with the defining feature of diabetes mellitus being elevated blood glucose concentration. Complications arising from the hyperglycemia accompanying frank diabetes are well known and epidemiological studies point to higher risk toward development of metabolic disease in persons with impaired glucose tolerance. Although the central role of proper blood sugar control in maintaining metabolic health is well established, recent developments have begun to shed light on associations between compromised insulin action [obesity, prediabetes, and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM)] and altered intermediary metabolism of fats and amino acids. For amino acids, changes in blood concentrations of select essential amino acids and their derivatives, in particular BCAA, sulfur amino acids, tyrosine, and phenylalanine, are apparent with obesity and insulin resistance, often before the onset of clinically diagnosed T2DM. This review provides an overview of these changes and places recent observations from metabolomics research into the context of historical reports in the areas of biochemistry and nutritional biology. Based on this synthesis, a model is proposed that links the FFA-rich environment of obesity/insulin resistance and T2DM with diminution of BCAA catabolic enzyme activity, changes in methionine oxidation and cysteine/cystine generation, and tissue redox balance (NADH/NAD+).

                Author and article information

                0836-22-2231 ,
                Environ Health Prev Med
                Environ Health Prev Med
                Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine
                BioMed Central (London )
                7 April 2017
                7 April 2017
                : 22
                [1 ]GRID grid.268397.1, Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, , Yamaguchi University, ; 1-1-1 Minami-Kogushi, Ube, Yamaguchi 755-8505 Japan
                [2 ]GRID grid.265107.7, Division of Health Administration and Promotion, Graduate School of Medicine, , Tottori University, ; Yonago, Japan
                [3 ]GRID grid.411621.1, Department of Biochemistry, , Shimane University Faculty of Medicine, ; Izumo, Japan
                [4 ]GRID grid.411621.1, Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, , Shimane University, ; Izumo, Japan
                [5 ]GRID grid.452488.7, Institute for Innovation, Ajinomoto Co., Inc., ; Kawasaki, Japan
                © The Author(s). 2017

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                Funded by: Ajinomoto Co., Inc.
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                © The Author(s) 2017


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