Emerging evidence suggests that amino acids may be potentially important in the prevention of diabetes and diabetes-associated complications. The pathways involved in the pathogenesis of diabetic complications include increased polyol pathway flux, increased advanced glycation end products formation, activation of protein kinase C and oxidative and carbonyl stress. This review will discuss the modulatory effects of amino acids on insulin secretion and their action in concert with insulin as signaling molecules. Evidences for the role of some amino acids in controlling glycemia and glucose- triggered pathological pathways are also included. Individual amino acids, especially the ones bestowed with antioxidant property like N-acetyl cysteine and taurine seem to have beneficial effects by their ability to reduce intracellular oxidative stress generation and glycooxidation. Other amino acids like glycine and lysine may be good candidates for the prevention of glycation. Nutritional intervention with taurine, phenyl alanine or branched chain amino acids can improve insulin sensitivity and post-prandial glucose disposal. Deficiency of one or more amino acids has been observed in diabetes and the beneficial effects of amino acids in some studies are positively correlated with the increase in plasma levels of these amino acids. Inclusion of individual amino acids/mixture, perhaps as a combinational therapy with conventional treatment protocols could be of therapeutic interest.
Keywords: Amino acids, insulin secretion, signal transduction, diabetic complications, protein glycation, oxidative stress, antidiabetic agents
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