Research Article| Volume 28, ISSUE 4, P393-401, April 2018

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Amino acid profiles of young adults differ by sex, body mass index and insulin resistance

Published:January 09, 2018DOI:


      • We establish the plasma amino acid concentration in healthy young adults.
      • The plasma amino acid profile differs between obesity and insulin resistance (IR).
      • Alanine, aspartate, proline and tyrosine increase in young adults with obesity and IR.
      • Glycine decreases in young adults with obesity and IR.


      Background and aims

      An increase in plasma branched-chain amino acids is associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. However, little is known about the basal plasma amino acid concentrations in young adults. Our aim was to determine the plasma amino acid profiles of young adults and to evaluate how these profiles were modified by sex, body mass index (BMI) and insulin resistance (IR).

      Methods and results

      We performed a transversal study with 608 Mexican young adults aged 19.9 ± 2.4 years who were applicants to the Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí. The subjects underwent a physical examination and provided a clinical history and a blood sample for biochemical, hormonal and amino acid analyses. The women had higher levels of arginine, aspartate and serine and lower levels of α-aminoadipic acid, cysteine, isoleucine, leucine, methionine, proline, tryptophan, tyrosine, urea and valine than the men. The obese subjects had higher levels of alanine, aspartate, cysteine, ornithine, phenylalanine, proline and tyrosine and lower levels of glycine, ornithine and serine than the normal weight subjects. Subjects with IR (defined as HOMA > 2.5) had higher levels of arginine, alanine, aspartate, isoleucine, leucine, phenylalanine, proline, tyrosine, taurine and valine than the subjects without IR. Furthermore, we identified two main groups in the subjects with obesity and/or IR; one group was composed of amino acids that positively correlated with the clinical, biochemical and hormonal parameters, whereas the second group exhibited negative correlations.


      This study demonstrates that young adults with obesity or IR have altered amino acid profiles characterized by an increase in alanine, aspartate, proline and tyrosine and a decrease in glycine.



      BMI (body mass index), IR (insulin resistance), HOMA (homeostatic model assessment), BCAA (branched-chain amino acids), SBP (systolic blood pressure), DBP (diastolic blood pressure), TC (total cholesterol), TG (triglycerides), OR (odds ratio), CI (confidence intervals)
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