Increased Incretin But Not Insulin Response after Oral versus Intravenous Branched Chain Amino Acids

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Background/Aims: Branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) are known to exert an insulinotropic effect. Whether this effect is mediated by incretins (glucagon like peptide 1 [GLP-1] or glucose-dependent insulinotropic peptide [GIP]) is not known. The aim of this study was to show whether an equivalent dose of BCAA elicits a greater insulin and incretin response when administered orally than intravenously (IV). Methods: Eighteen healthy, male subjects participated in 3 tests: IV application of BCAA solution, oral ingestion of BCAA and placebo in an equivalent dose (30.7 ± 1.1 g). Glucose, insulin, C-peptide, glucagon, GLP-1, GIP, valine, leucine and isoleucine concentrations were measured. Results: Rise in serum BCAA was achieved in both BCAA tests, with incremental areas under the curve (iAUC) being 2.1 times greater for IV BCAA compared with those of the oral BCAA test (p < 0.0001). Oral and IV BCAA induced comparable insulin response greater than placebo (240 min insulin iAUC: oral 3,411 ± 577 vs. IV 2,361 ± 384 vs. placebo 961.2 ± 175 pmol/L, p = 0.0006). Oral BCAA induced higher GLP-1 (p < 0.0001) and GIP response (p < 0.0001) compared with the IV or placebo. Glucose levels declined significantly (p < 0.001) in the same pattern during both BCAA tests with no change in the placebo group. Conclusions: An equivalent dose of BCAA elicited a comparable insulin and greater incretin response when administered orally and not when administered through IV. We conclude that insulinotropic effects of BCAA are partially incretin dependent.

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