Send to

Choose Destination
J Nutr Health Aging. 2015 Apr;19(4):437-46. doi: 10.1007/s12603-014-0559-4.

Effects of leucine-rich protein supplements on anthropometric parameter and muscle strength in the elderly: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Author information

Georg Hoffmann, PhD, Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Vienna, Althanstreet 14 (UZAII), A-1090 Vienna, Austria, M:



The primary objective of the present systematic review and meta-analysis was to synthesize the available literature relating to leucine supplementation in the elderly with respect to its effects on anthropometrical parameters and muscle strength. The secondary aim was to perform a selective subgroup analysis when possible differentiating between healthy and sarcopenic subjects.


Literature search was performed using the electronic databases MEDLINE, EMBASE, SportDiscus, and the Cochrane Central Register of trials with restrictions to randomized controlled trials or studies following a cross-over design. Parameters taken into account were body weight, body mass index, lean body mass, fat mass, percentage of body fat, hand grip strength, and knee extension strength. Moreover, biomarkers of glucose metabolism (fasting glucose, fasting insulin, albumin, and HOMA index) were extracted when possible. For each outcome measure of interest, a meta-analysis was performed in order to determine the pooled effect of the intervention in terms of weighted mean differences between the post-intervention (or differences in means) values of the leucine and the respective control groups. Data analysis was performed using the Review Manager 5.2.4. software.


A total of 16 studies enrolling 999 subjects met the inclusion criteria. Compared with control groups, leucine supplementation significantly increased gain in body weight [mean differences 1.02 kg, 95%-CI (0.19, 1.85), p=0.02], lean body mass [mean differences 0.99 kg, 95%-CI (0.43, 1.55), p=0.0005], and body mass index [mean differences 0.33 kg/m2, 95%-CI (0.13, 0.53), p=0.001], when compared to the respective control groups. With respect to body weight and lean body mass, leucine supplementation turned out to be more effective in the subgroup of study participants with manifested sarcopenia. All other parameters under investigation were not affected by leucine supplementation in a fashion significantly different from controls.


It is concluded that leucine supplementation was found to exert beneficial effects on body weight, body mass index, and lean body mass in older persons in those subjects already prone to sarcopenia, but not muscle strength. However, due to the heterogeneity between the trials included in this systematic review, further studies adopting a homogenous design with respect to participant characteristics duration as well as the kind and amount of daily supplement in use are required.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center