Author(s): Baracos VE, Mackenzie ML
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Abstract Many of the features of BCAA metabolism in the tumor-bearing state are similar to the other disease states that feature involuntary weight loss and skeletal muscle atrophy. These states are generally characterized by altered BCAA availability (low BCAA intakes, elevated rates of BCAA oxidation, and gluconeogenesis), which are concurrent with activation of proteolysis and suppression of protein synthesis in skeletal muscle and ultimately lead to erosion of lean tissue mass. These features in turn imply BCAA deficiency compared with whole-body requirements and are the basis of suggestions for dietary supplementation with BCAA or their metabolites. Recent studies on BCAA supplementation in cancer focus on leucine and its derivative, beta-methyl beta-hydroxybutyrate, as regulators of skeletal muscle metabolism, although their relative efficacy is unknown. However, what would otherwise be a relatively straightforward consideration of amino acid supply and demand is confounded by the presence of the tumor and its potential utilization of BCAA for its proliferative and invasive activities. Positron emission tomography with (11)C-leucine, used for in vivo tumor imaging, points to the high avidity of tumor amino acid uptake. These features have incited research in opposing directions, probing BCAA deprivation, with a view to limiting tumor growth, as well as BCAA supplementation, with a view to supporting maintenance of host lean tissue. No clear conclusion is presently available from the sum of these efforts. Animal models with relevant clinical features are essential to determine if amino acid therapy can alter the balance between the host and the tumor in a manner that favors the host overall.
This article was published in J Nutr
and referenced in Metabolomics:Open Access