Dietary Methionine and Total Sulfur Amino Acid Restriction in Healthy Adults

Objectives: Dietary restriction of methionine (Met) and cysteine (Cys) delays the aging process and aging-related diseases, improves glucose and fat metabolism and reduces oxidative stress in numerous laboratory animal models. Little is known regarding the effects of sulfur amino acid restriction in humans. Thus, our objectives were to determine the impact of feeding diets restricted in Met alone (MetR) or in both Met and Cys (total sulfur amino acids, SAAR) to healthy adults on relevant biomarkers of cardiometabolic disease risk.

Design: A controlled feeding study.

Setting and participants: We included 20 healthy adults (11 females/9 males) assigned to MetR or SAAR diet groups consisting of three 4-wk feeding periods: Control period; low level restriction period (70% MetR or 50% SAAR); and high level restriction period (90% MetR or 65% SAAR) separated by 3-4-wk washout periods.

Results: No adverse effects were associated with either diet and level of restriction and compliance was high in all subjects. SAAR was associated with significant reductions in body weight and plasma levels of total cholesterol, LDL, uric acid, leptin, and insulin, BUN, and IGF-1, and increases in body temperature and plasma FGF-21 after 4 weeks (P<0.05). Fewer changes occurred with MetR including significant reductions in BUN, uric acid and 8-isoprostane and an increase in FGF-21 after 4 weeks (P<0.05). In the 65% SAAR group, plasma Met and Cys levels were significantly reduced by 15% and 13% respectively (P<0.05).

Conclusion: These results suggest that many of the short-term beneficial effects of SAAR observed in animal models are translatable to humans and support further clinical development of this intervention.