New Functions and Potential Applications of Amino Acids

  • Hisayuki Uneyama
  • Hisamine Kobayashi
  • Naoto TonouchiEmail author
Part of the Advances in Biochemical Engineering/Biotechnology book series (ABE, volume 159)


Currently, several types of amino acids are being produced and used worldwide. Nevertheless, several new functions of amino acids have been recently discovered that could result in other applications. For example, oral stimulation by glutamate triggers the cephalic phase response to prepare for food digestion. Further, the stomach and intestines have specific glutamate-recognizing systems in their epithelial mucosa. Regarding clinical applications, addition of monosodium glutamate to the medicinal diet has been shown to markedly enhance gastric secretion in a vagus-dependent manner. Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are the major components of muscles, and ingestion of BCAAs has been found to be effective for decreasing muscle pain. BCAAs are expected to be a solution for the serious issue of aging. Further, ingestion of specific amino acids could be beneficial. Glycine can be ingested for good night’s sleep: glycine ingestion before bedtime significantly improved subjective sleep quality. Ingestion of alanine and glutamine effectively accelerates alcohol metabolism, and ingestion of cystine and theanine effectively prevents colds. Finally, amino acids could be used in a novel clinical diagnostic method: the balance of amino acids in the blood could be an indicator of the risk of diseases such as cancer. These newly discovered functions of amino acids are expected to contribute to the resolution of various issues.


Alcohol metabolism Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) Diagnostic indication Good night’s sleep Prevent cold Protein digestion Sarcopenia 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hisayuki Uneyama
    • 1
  • Hisamine Kobayashi
    • 2
  • Naoto Tonouchi
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Institute for InnovationAjinomoto Co. Inc.KawasakiJapan
  2. 2.Department of Research, Development and PlanningAjinomoto Co. Inc.TokyoJapan
  3. 3.Research Institute for Bioscience Products and Fine ChemicalsAjinomoto Co. Inc.KawasakiJapan

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