Journal of Physiology and Biochemistry

, Volume 69, Issue 1, pp 155–163 | Cite as

Impact of leucine on energy balance

  • Liam McAllan
  • Paul D. Cotter
  • Helen M. Roche
  • Riitta Korpela
  • Kanishka N. NilaweeraEmail author


Body weight is determined by the balance between energy intake and energy expenditure. When energy intake exceeds energy expenditure, the surplus energy is stored as fat in the adipose tissue, which causes its expansion and may even lead to the development of obesity. Thus, there is a growing interest to develop dietary interventions that could reduce the current obesity epidemic. In this regard, data from a number of in vivo and in vitro studies suggest that the branched-chain amino acid leucine influences energy balance. However, this has not been consistently reported. Here, we review the literature related to the effects of leucine on energy intake, energy expenditure and lipid metabolism as well as its effects on the cellular activity in the brain (hypothalamus) and in peripheral tissues (gastro-intestinal tract, adipose tissue, liver and muscle) regulating the above physiological processes. Moreover, we discuss how obesity may influence the actions of this amino acid.


Cholecystokinin Fatty acid synthase Glucagon-like peptide-1 Pro-opiomelanocortin 



The on-going work in the area of nutrient effects on energy balance is funded by Teagasc, Ireland. The authors have no conflicts of interest. Each author listed contributed by reviewing the literature and/or by critically reviewing the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© University of Navarra 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Liam McAllan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Paul D. Cotter
    • 1
    • 3
  • Helen M. Roche
    • 4
  • Riitta Korpela
    • 5
  • Kanishka N. Nilaweera
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Teagasc Food Research CentreCorkIreland
  2. 2.Department of Pharmacology and TherapeuticsUniversity College CorkCorkIreland
  3. 3.Alimentary Pharmabiotic CentreUniversity College CorkCorkIreland
  4. 4.UCD Conway Institute of Biomolecular & Biomedical Research, & UCD Institute of Food & HealthUniversity College DublinDublin 4Ireland
  5. 5.Institute of Biomedicine, Biomedicum HelsinkiUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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