Effects of 6-month supplementation with β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate, glutamine and arginine on vascular endothelial function of older adults

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Vascular endothelial function declines with advancing age, due in part to increased oxidative stress and inflammation, and this age-related vascular dysfunction has been identified as an independent risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. This double-blind, placebo-controlled trial investigated the effects of a dietary supplement containing β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate (HMB), glutamine and arginine on endothelial-dependent vasodilation of older adults.


A total of 31 community-dwelling men and women aged 65–87 years were randomly assigned to two groups. The treatment group received two doses of the supplement daily (totaling 3 g HMB, 14 g glutamine and 14 g arginine) for 6 months, whereas the control group received an isocaloric placebo. At baseline and week 24, vascular endothelial function was measured by flow-mediated dilation of the brachial artery, and fasting blood samples were obtained to measure high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α).


Paired sample t-tests revealed a 27% increase in flow-mediated dilation among the treatment group (P=0.003), whereas no change was observed in the placebo group (P=0.651). Repeated-measures analysis of variance verified a significant time by group interaction (P=0.038). Although no significant changes were observed for hsCRP or TNF-α, a trend was observed for increasing hsCRP among the placebo group only (P=0.059).


These results suggest that dietary supplementation of HMB, glutamine and arginine may favorably affect vascular endothelial function in older adults. Additional studies are needed to elucidate whether reduced inflammation or other mechanisms may underlie the benefits of supplementation.

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This work was funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (F31 AT005384-01). Core laboratory support and facilities were provided by the UAB Diabetes Research Center Human Physiology Core (P30DK079626-06). Abbott Nutrition provided supplement and placebo in coded packets.

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Correspondence to A C Ellis.

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The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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Supplementary Information accompanies this paper on European Journal of Clinical Nutrition website

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Ellis, A., Patterson, M., Dudenbostel, T. et al. Effects of 6-month supplementation with β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate, glutamine and arginine on vascular endothelial function of older adults. Eur J Clin Nutr 70, 269–273 (2016) doi:10.1038/ejcn.2015.137

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