New Publication: The Emerging Role of Branched-Chain Amino Acids in Liver Diseases
Updated: Aug 29, 2022
Chronic liver diseases pose a substantial health burden worldwide, with approximately two million deaths each year. Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)—valine, leucine, and isoleucine—are a group of essential amino acids that are essential for human health. Despite the necessity of a dietary intake of BCAA, emerging data indicate the undeniable correlation between elevated circulating BCAA levels and chronic liver diseases, including non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases (NAFLD), cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Moreover, circulatory BCAAs were positively associated with a higher cholesterol level, liver fat content, and insulin resistance (IR). However, BCAA supplementation was found to provide positive outcomes in cirrhosis and HCC patients. This review will attempt to address the contradictory claims found in the literature, with a special focus on BCAAs’ distribution, key signaling pathways, and the modulation of gut microbiota. This should provide a better understanding of BCAAs’ possible contribution to liver health.
Recent studies proposed the possibility of utilizing BCAAs as a non-invasive marker for liver disease. While higher circulatory levels of BCAAs were found in NAFLD, NASH, cirrhosis, and HCC patients, the supplementation of BCAAs was found to be beneficial in liver diseases.