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The effects of dietary protein on the somatotropic axis: a comparison of soy, gelatin, α-lactalbumin and milk



Growth hormone (GH) is an important regulator of growth and body composition. It has been shown that GH release can be promoted by administration of various amino acids (AAs), such as arginine and lysine, that are present in soy protein. We previously showed that oral ingestion of soy protein stimulates the GH release, it is not known however to which extent other proteins stimulate the GH secretion.


Ingestion of soy protein (soy), gelatin protein (gelatin), α-lactalbumin protein (α-lactalbumin) and milk protein (milk) were compared on their GH-stimulating capacity. After oral ingestion of protein (0.6 g protein per kg bodyweight), blood was sampled every 20 min for 5 h to analyze GH, AA, insulin and glucose concentrations. The study was performed in eight healthy women (aged 19–26 years; body mass index 19–26 kg/m2) in a randomized, single blind, placebo-controlled crossover design.


GH responses were more increased after ingestion of gelatine (8.2±1.1 μg/l) compared with ingestion of soy, α-lactalbumin and milk (5.0±0.8, 4.5±0.6 and 6.4±1.0 μg/l, respectively) (P<0.05). After ingestion of each protein, GH responses were higher compared with placebo ingestion (P<0.05). Simultaneously ingestion of gelatin resulted in the highest serum-arginine concentrations (ARG) compared with after ingestion of the other proteins (P<0.05). Insulin as well as glucose concentrations were not different after ingestion of the various proteins (P<0.05).


The GH-promoting activity of protein depends on the protein source, in that, gelatin protein is the most potent GH stimulator. Arginine may be the responsible AA in the GH-promoting effect of gelatin, although each protein may have its own specific AA-spectrum involved in the stimulation of the somatotropic axis.

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Correspondence to A J A H van Vught.

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van Vught, A., Nieuwenhuizen, A., Veldhorst, M. et al. The effects of dietary protein on the somatotropic axis: a comparison of soy, gelatin, α-lactalbumin and milk. Eur J Clin Nutr 64, 441–446 (2010).

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