BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Emerging evidence suggests a role of amino acids (AAs) in the development of various diseases including renal failure, liver cirrhosis, diabetes and cancer. However, mechanistic pathways and the effects of dietary AA intakes on circulating levels and disease outcomes are unclear. We aimed to compare protein and AA intakes, with their respective blood concentrations in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) cohort.
METHODS: Dietary protein and AA intakes were assessed via the EPIC dietary questionnaires (DQ) and 24-h dietary recalls (24-HDR). A subsample of 3768 EPIC participants who were free of cancer had blood AA concentrations measured. To investigate how circulating levels relate to their respective intakes, dietary AA intake was examined in quintiles and ANOVA tests were run. Pearson correlations were examined for continous associations between intakes and blood concentrations.
RESULTS: Dietary AA intakes (assessed with the DQ) and blood AA concentrations were not strongly correlated (-0.15 ≤ r ≤ 0.17) and the direction of the correlations depended on AA class: weak positive correlations were found for most essential AAs (isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine) and conditionally essential AAs (arginine and tyrosine), while negative associations were found for non-essential AAs. Similar results were found when using the 24-HDR. When conducting ANOVA tests for essential AAs, higher intake quintiles were linked to higher blood AA concentrations, except for histidine and phenylalanine. For non-essential AAs and glycine, an inverse relationship was observed. Conditionally-essential AAs showed mixed results.
CONCLUSIONS: Weak positive correlations and dose responses were found between most essential and conditionally essential AA intakes, and blood concentrations, but not for the non-essential AAs. These results suggest that intake of dietary AA might be related to physiological AA status, particularly for the essential AAs. However, these results should be further evaluated and confirmed in large-scale prospective studies.