Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.


Amino acids — lifesaver or killer in patients with diabetes?

Distinct circulating amino acids are suggested to modulate the risk of complications and mortality related to diabetes mellitus. These findings pave the way for future basic and clinical studies to gain new insights into the pathogenesis and treatment of diabetes mellitus.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1: The role of circulating amino acid levels for cellular function.


  1. 1.

    Gancheva, S., Jelenik, T., Alvarez-Hernandez, E. & Roden, M. Interorgan metabolic crosstalk in human insulin resistance. Physiol. Rev. 98, 1371–1415 (2018).

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Welsh, P. et al. Circulating amino acids and the risk of macrovascular, microvascular and mortality outcomes in individuals with type 2 diabetes: results from the ADVANCE trial. Diabetologia 61, 1581–1591 (2018).

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Wang, T. J. et al. Metabolite profiles and the risk of developing diabetes. Nat. Med. 17, 448–453 (2011).

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Ruiz-Canela, M. et al. Comprehensive metabolomic profiling and incident cardiovascular disease: a systematic review. J. Am. Heart Assoc. 6, e005705 (2017).

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    McGarrah, R. W., Crown, S. B., Zhang, G. F., Shah, S. H. & Newgard, C. B. Cardiovascular metabolomics. Circul. Res. 122, 1238–1258 (2018).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Shin, A. C. et al. Brain insulin lowers circulating BCAA levels by inducing hepatic BCAA catabolism. Cell Metab. 20, 898–909 (2014).

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Krebs, M. et al. Mechanism of amino acid-induced skeletal muscle insulin resistance in humans. Diabetes 51, 599–605 (2002).

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Kahl, S. et al. Amino acid and fatty acid levels affect hepatic phosphorus metabolite content in metabolically healthy humans. J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. 103, 460–468 (2018).

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Morgan, H. E. et al. Regulation of protein synthesis in heart muscle. I. Effect of amino acid levels on protein synthesis. J. Biol. Chem. 246, 2152–2162 (1971).

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Alshehry, Z. H. et al. Plasma lipidomic profiles improve on traditional risk factors for the prediction of cardiovascular events in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Circulation 134, 1637–1650 (2016).

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Michael Roden.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Kahl, S., Roden, M. Amino acids — lifesaver or killer in patients with diabetes?. Nat Rev Endocrinol 14, 449–451 (2018).

Download citation


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing