Essential amino acids and hyperlipidemia

An increased level of blood lipids is one of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Current medical classification schemes and treatment levels for hyperlipidemia emphasize the pharmaceutical use of statins as the preferred class of drugs to lower elevated low density lipoprotein cholesterol. There are other drug classes to augment or perhaps substitute for statins, such as fibrates and niacin. Indeed, research has raised the question whether or not the current guidelines are sufficiently inclusive and effective. New guidelines are expected to be released in the near future, but in the meantime, physicians are facing insecurity when advising patients on how to lower dangerous low density lipoprotein cholesterol.

In that respect, it is worthwhile to notice that simple dietary supplementation with essential amino acids (EAA) could lower plasma triglyceride and improve glucose metabolism in humans. In a clinical study conducted with elderly a few years back, circulating TG concentrations were reduced ~20% from the starting value, while total caloric intake was not significantly affected by the EAA supplements ingested daily over 16 weeks. ( ). The most recent clinical study was conducted in subjects who were 50 years or older and had a documented plasma plasma triglycerides elevated at >150 mg/dL. The outcome of the study further showed that a dietary supplementation of leucine-enriched EAA, in a combination with phytosterols, promoted favorable reductions of blood lipids in individuals with hyperlipidemia ( ).

Since elevating dietary intake of EAA is relatively simple and affordable, one could only hope that such an intervention would be incorporated into new medical classification schemes and treatment levels for hyperlipidemia. This is especially true when considering that lysine-enriched EAA, perhaps in combination with arginine, also substantially increase lean body mass, improve strength as well as physical function compared to baseline values in elderly individuals. (see,