The role of amino acid profiles in diabetes risk assessment

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Purpose of review

The concentrations of plasma-free amino acids, such as branched-chain amino acids and aromatic amino acids, are associated with visceral obesity, insulin resistance, and the future development of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. This review discusses recent progress in the early assessment of the risk of developing diabetes and the reversal of altered plasma-free amino acids through interventions. Additionally, recent developments that have increased the utility of amino acid profiling technology are also described.

Recent findings

Plasma-free amino acid alterations in the early stage of lifestyle-related diseases are because of obesity and insulin resistance-related inflammation, and these alterations are reversed by appropriate (nutritional, drug, or surgical) interventions that improve insulin sensitivity. For clinical applications, procedures for measuring amino acids are being standardized and automated.


Plasma-free amino acid profiles have potential as biomarkers for both assessing diabetes risk and monitoring the effects of strategies designed to lower that risk. In addition, the methodology for measuring amino acids has been refined, with the goal of routine clinical application.

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