Aging is the main factor involved in the onset of degenerative diseases. Dietary protein restriction has been shown to increase the lifespan of rodents and improve metabolic phenotype. Branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) can act as nutrient signals that increase the lifespan of mice after prolonged supplementation. It remains unclear whether the combination of protein restriction and BCAA supplementation improves metabolic and immunological profiles during aging. Here, we investigated how dietary protein levels and BCAA supplementation impact metabolism and immune profile during a 12-month intervention in adult male C57BL/6J mice. We found that protein restriction improved insulin tolerance and increased hepatic fibroblast growth factor 21 mRNA, circulating interleukin (IL)-5 concentration, and thermogenic uncoupling protein 1 in subcutaneous white fat. Surprisingly, BCAA supplementation conditionally increased body weight, lean mass, and fat mass, and deteriorated insulin intolerance during protein restriction, but not during protein sufficiency. BCAA also induced pro-inflammatory gene expression in visceral adipose tissue under both normal and low protein conditions. These results suggest that dietary protein levels and BCAA supplementation coordinate a complex regulation of metabolism and tissue inflammation during prolonged feeding.
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