Amino Acid Metabolism in the Kidneys: Nutritional and Physiological Significance Academic Article uri icon


  • The kidneys are developed from the intermediate mesoderm of the embryo. They are important for osmoregulation, regulation of acid-base balance, reabsorption of nutrients, and excretion of metabolites. In fish, the kidneys also serve as a hematopoietic, lymphoid and endocrine organ for the generation of red blood cells, the development of lymphocytes, and the production of hormones (e.g., glucocorticoids, catecholamines, and thyroid hormones). In humans and all animals, kidneys play a vital role in the metabolism and reabsorption of amino acids (AAs) and glucose. Specifically, this organ contributes to glucose synthesis from AAs, lactate and pyruvate via the gluconeogenesis pathway; regulates acid-base balance via inter-organ metabolism of glutamine; and synthesizes arginine, tyrosine, and glycine, respectively, from citrulline, phenylalanine, and 4-hydroxyproline. In mammals and birds, kidneys participate in creatine synthesis. Renal dysfunction adversely alters the concentrations of AAs in blood, while promoting muscle protein breakdown, inflammation, mitochondrial abnormalities, defects in the immune response, and cardiovascular diseases. Moderation of dietary AA intake has a protective and therapeutic effect on chronic kidney disease. Understanding the functions and metabolism of AAs in kidneys is essential for maintaining whole-body homeostasis, improving health and well-being, and preventing or treating renal┬ámetabolic diseases in humans and farm animals (including swine, poultry, ruminants, fish and shrimp).

published proceedings

  • Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology

altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Li, X., Zheng, S., & Wu, G.

citation count

  • 16

complete list of authors

  • Li, X||Zheng, S||Wu, G

editor list (cited editors)

  • Wu, G..

publication date

  • January 1, 2020 11:11 AM