Interorgan Metabolism of Amino Acids in Human Health and Disease. Academic Article uri icon


  • Amino acids are integral for human health, influencing an array of physiological processes from gene expression to vasodilation to the immune response. In accordance with this expansive range of unique functions, the tissues of the body engage in a complex interplay of amino acid exchange and metabolism to respond to the organism's dynamic needs for a range of nitrogenous products. Interorgan amino acid metabolism is required for numerous metabolic pathways, including the synthesis of functional amino acids like arginine, glutamate, glutamine, and glycine. This physiological process requires the cooperative handling of amino acids by organs (e.g., the small intestine, skeletal muscle, kidneys, and liver), as well as the complete catabolism of nutritionally essential amino acids such as the BCAAs, with their -ketoacids shuttled from muscle to liver. These exchanges are made possible by several mechanisms, including organ location, as well as the functional zonation of enzymes and the cell-specific expression of amino acid transporters. The cooperative handling of amino acids between the various organs does not appear to be under the control of any centralized regulation, but is instead influenced by factors such as fluctuations in nutrient availability, hormones, changes associated with development, and altered environmental factors. While the normal function of these pathways is associated with health and homeostasis, affected by physical activity, diet and body composition, dysregulation is observed in numerous disease states, including cardiovascular disease and cancer cachexia, presenting potential avenues for the manipulation of amino acid consumption as part of the therapeutic approach to these conditions in individuals.

published proceedings

  • Adv Exp Med Biol

altmetric score

  • 1.25

author list (cited authors)

  • J Ryan, P., Riechman, S. E., Fluckey, J. D., & Wu, G.

citation count

  • 4

complete list of authors

  • J Ryan, Patrick||Riechman, Steven E||Fluckey, James D||Wu, Guoyao

editor list (cited editors)

  • Wu, G.

publication date

  • January 2021