Amino Acids

, Volume 42, Issue 5, pp 1553–1582 | Cite as

Nutritional and medicinal aspects of d-amino acids

  • Mendel FriedmanEmail author
  • Carol E. Levin
Invited Review


This paper reviews and interprets a method for determining the nutritional value of d-amino acids, d-peptides, and amino acid derivatives using a growth assay in mice fed a synthetic all-amino acid diet. A large number of experiments were carried out in which a molar equivalent of the test compound replaced a nutritionally essential amino acid such as l-lysine (l-Lys), l-methionine (l-Met), l-phenylalanine (l-Phe), and l-tryptophan (l-Trp) as well as the semi-essential amino acids l-cysteine (l-Cys) and l-tyrosine (l-Tyr). The results show wide-ranging variations in the biological utilization of test substances. The method is generally applicable to the determination of the biological utilization and safety of any amino acid derivative as a potential nutritional source of the corresponding l-amino acid. Because the organism is forced to use the d-amino acid or amino acid derivative as the sole source of the essential or semi-essential amino acid being replaced, and because a free amino acid diet allows better control of composition, the use of all-amino-acid diets for such determinations may be preferable to protein-based diets. Also covered are brief summaries of the widely scattered literature on dietary and pharmacological aspects of 27 individual d-amino acids, d-peptides, and isomeric amino acid derivatives and suggested research needs in each of these areas. The described results provide a valuable record and resource for further progress on the multifaceted aspects of d-amino acids in food and biological samples.


d-Amino acids d-Peptides Amino acid derivatives Nutritional evaluation Bioavailability Toxicity 


Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer-Verlag (outside the USA) 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Western Regional Research CenterAgricultural Research Service, United States Department of AgricultureAlbanyUSA

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