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Br J Nutr. 2012 Aug;108 Suppl 2:S113-21. doi: 10.1017/S0007114512002292.

The metabolism of "surplus" amino acids.

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Division of Biosciences and Division of Medical Education, University College London, Gower St, London WC1E 6BT, UK.


For an adult in N balance, apart from small amounts of amino acids required for the synthesis of neurotransmitters, hormones, etc, an amount of amino acids almost equal to that absorbed from the diet can be considered to be "surplus" in that it will be catabolized. The higher diet-induced thermogenesis from protein than from carbohydrate or fat has generally been assumed to be due to increased protein synthesis, which is ATP expensive. To this must be added the ATP cost of protein catabolism through the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway. Amino acid catabolism will add to thermogenesis. Deamination results in net ATP formation except when serine and threonine deaminases are used, but there is the energy cost of synthesizing glutamine in extra-hepatic tissues. The synthesis of urea has a net cost of only 1·5 × ATP when the ATP yield from fumarate metabolism is offset against the ATP cost of the urea cycle, but this offset is thermogenic. In fasting and on a low carbohydrate diet as much of the amino acid carbon as possible will be used for gluconeogenesis - an ATP-expensive, and hence thermogenic, process. Complete oxidation of most amino acid carbon skeletons also involves a number of thermogenic steps in which ATP (or GTP) or reduced coenzymes are utilized. There are no such thermogenic steps in the metabolism of pyruvate, acetyl CoA or acetoacetate, but for amino acids that are metabolized by way of the citric acid cycle intermediates there is thermogenesis ranging from 1 up to 7 × ATP equivalent per mol.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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