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Plasma Branched-Chain Amino Acids Linked to Insulin Sensitivity

Correlation significantly modified by ethnicity; only significant in Caucasians and Hispanics

glucose test

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 24, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Plasma branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are associated with insulin sensitivity (SI) and metabolic clearance rate of insulin (MCRI), according to a study published online Feb. 19 in Diabetes Care.

C. Christine Lee, M.D., from the University of Toronto, and colleagues examined the correlations for BCAAs with SI, acute insulin response (AIR), and MCRI in 685 participants without diabetes from the Insulin Resistance Atherosclerosis Study. The authors measured plasma BCAAs (sum of valine, leucine, and isoleucine) by mass spectrometry, while frequently-sampled intravenous glucose tolerance tests were used to assess SI, AIR, and MCRI.

The researchers found that after adjustment for potential confounders, there was an inverse association for elevated plasma BCAAs with SI and MCRI, and a positive association for fasting insulin. Ethnicity significantly modified the correlation for BCAA with SI, with the correlation only significant in Caucasians and Hispanics. In Caucasians and Hispanics, but not African-Americans, elevated plasma BCAA correlated with incident diabetes (multivariable-adjusted odds ratio for one-standard deviation increase in plasma BCAAs, 1.67). There was no correlation for plasma BCAAs with SI-adjusted AIR.

"Plasma BCAAs are associated with incident diabetes and underlying metabolic abnormalities, although the associations were generally stronger in Caucasians and Hispanics," the authors write.

One author is employed by Metabolon, which provides metabolomics services and sells diagnostics for the management of metabolic disorders.

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