Amino acid supplements and metabolic health: a potential interplay between intestinal microbiota and systems control [review, 2017]

Dietary supplementation of essential amino acids (EAAs) has been shown to promote healthspan. EAAs regulate, in fact, glucose and lipid metabolism and energy balance, increase mitochondrial biogenesis, and maintain immune homeostasis. Basic science and epidemiological results indicate that dietary macronutrient composition affects healthspan through multiple and integrated mechanisms, and their effects are closely related to the metabolic status to which they act. In particular, EAA supplementation can trigger different and even opposite effects depending on the catabolic and anabolic states of the organisms. Among others, gut-associated microbial communities (referred to as gut microbiota) emerged as a major regulator of the host metabolism. Diet and host health influence gut microbiota, and composition of gut microbiota, in turn, controls many aspects of host health, including nutrient metabolism, resistance to infection, and immune signals. Altered communication between the innate immune system and the gut microbiota might contribute to complex diseases. Furthermore, gut microbiota and its impact to host health change largely during different life phases such as lactation, weaning, and aging. Here we will review the accumulating body of knowledge on the impact of dietary EAA supplementation on the host metabolic health and healthspan from a holistic perspective. Moreover, we will focus on the current efforts to establish causal relationships among dietary EAAs, gut microbiota, and health during human development.

About Robert Zinn

Robert Zinn, M.D., Ph.D. is a medical doctor, physician, and web entrepreneur, who, for over 15 years was employed by academic and research institutions and focused his clinical practices on very specialized patient populations, such as those with rare genetic diseases or rare cancers. He shares his knowledge through his website,

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