Essential amino acids lowered triglyceride levels in the blood and liver, as well as total cholesterol and VLDL cholesterol levels
Essential amino acids lowered triglyceride levels in the blood and liver, as well as total cholesterol and VLDL cholesterol levels

Amino acid supplementation decreases plasma and liver triglycerides in elderly

Overview

Hypertriglyceridemia is a condition characterized by high blood levels of triglycerides, which are associated with atherosclerosis and a greater risk of heart disease. While there is evidence that low-carbohydrate diets can benefit plasma lipid concentrations by lowering triglycerides, the effect may be, in part, due to increased protein intake. Therefore, researchers investigated the independent benefits of supplementation of the diet with essential amino acids on blood, liver, and muscle lipid concentrations.

Trial Length

6 months

Number of Subjects

12

Gender

All genders

Age Range

61 - 72

The Goal

To determine if supplementing a normal diet with 11 grams of an essential amino acid-based formula containing arginine could lower circulating and tissue triglyceride levels and improve insulin sensitivity in elderly patients with glucose intolerance. 

The Results

A 16-week supplementation regimen of 11 grams of amino acids a day with no changes to diet or physical activity levels resulted in significant improvements to triglyceride levels in the blood, as well as total cholesterol and very low density lipoprotein (VLDL). 

Plasma triglycerides decreased approximately 20% from the start of the study, with the greatest reductions in patients with the highest levels at the outset. 

Figure 1 demonstrates the improvements in triglycerides during the 16 weeks of amino acid supplementation.The average plasma triglyceride concentration changes form baseline during 16 weeks of amino acid supplementation

In addition, liver fat content dropped by approximately 50% with the greatest decrease obtained by week 8 and once again in patients that started with the highest concentrations as demonstrated in Figure 2. Liver lipids at baseline, and after 8  and 16 weeks of amino acid supplementation

Conclusion

Supplementing with essential amino acids plus arginine lowers triglyceride, total cholesterol, and VLDL cholesterol levels in the blood and liver, and the effect is greatest at higher triglyceride levels, suggesting the potential of amino acid supplementation as a treatment for hypertriglyceridemia or hepatic steatosis (fatty liver). While there was a reduction in liver fat, insulin sensitivity did not improve, which indicates that fat accumulation in the liver is not the primary determinant of insulin sensitivity. 

The Why?

High triglycerides contribute to the hardening of arteries, which increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and heart disease. And when triglycerides and other lipids accumulate in the liver, a diagnosis of fatty liver disease may follow. Amino acid supplementation among other dietary interventions can help lower triglycerides that put your heart, liver, and other organs at risk.

Citation

Børsheim E, Bui QU, Tissier S, et al. Amino acid supplementation decreases plasma and liver triacylglycerols in elderly. Nutrition. 2009;25(3):281-288. doi:10.1016/j.nut.2008.09.001