New dietary approach to fight obesity

A research performed by Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) at Monash University has offered a new insight into the roles played by a pair of essential amino acids in metabolic health. This insight may help researchers to combat obesity.


Image Credit: kurhan/

Under the guidance of Dr. Adam Rose, this latest discovery demonstrates that when the concentration of two essential amino acids—tryptophan and threonine—is decreased in young healthy mice, the animals were able to burn more amounts of calories than they consumed and without any reduction in calories.

This also kept the animals lean and healthy without the associated side effect of reduced muscle mass. The study was published in the Nature Communications journal. The mice also benefited from a low-threonine diet, especially the ones that were morbidly obese and likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

Although vitality can be improved through a reasonable reduction in dietary protein and thus essential amino acids, diets lacking this component can make individuals sick very rapidly and hence are not suggested.

But the study has also demonstrated that a reconsideration of the functions of the two essential amino acids in nutrition requires additional analysis.

Once we understand which particular dietary components are needed for the health-promoting effects of these diets we can design strategies to mimic them, simulating the effects without having the negative side effects.”

Dr Adam Rose, Senior Research Fellow, Monash University

A highlight of this research was an experiment in which Dr. Rose and his research team genetically exploited the mice such that they were able to produce the essential amino acid—threonine. This amino acid inhibited the health-promoting effects of the low-threonine diet and led to weight gain in the mice, demonstrating that these two essential amino acids may hold the key to a novel dietary approach.

Dr. Matthew Piper, a key co-author of the study, stated, “We are finding an increasing number of situations in which essential amino acids are powerful modulators of lifelong health and lifespan. Our findings on their specific effects give us exciting insights into how we might harness their benefits to drive better health.”

We are beginning to understand how critical the balance of dietary amino acids is to the control of appetite, health and ageing.”

Stephen Simpson, Study Co-Author and Professor, Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney

Journal reference:

Yap, Y. W., et al. (2020) Restriction of essential amino acids dictates the systemic metabolic response to dietary protein dilution. Nature Communications.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of AZoLifeSciences.
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