Urine Amino Acid Analysis
Urine Amino Acid Analysis
Amino acids play a vital role as building blocks of proteins and also as intermediates in metabolism. These amino acids help in neurotransmitter function, pH balance regulation, hormone metabolism, pain and inflammation control, detoxification, cholesterol metabolism and various other biological activities. Excess or deficiency of amino acids in the body either due to dietary restriction or inherited metabolic problems can cause very serious health issues.
Urine amino acid test measures the amino acid levels in the urine. It is a medical test that helps in identifying underlying chronic disorders caused by amino acid imbalances and vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Most often, Amino acid test is performed as a screening test in newborn and children to address metabolism disorders. If any of the essential amino acids are not available in sufficient quantities, the production of protein is compromised with inefficient metabolism. The deficiency may cause disorders such as ADD, depression, Tourette syndrome, tic disorder, OCD, seizures and others.
Urine amino acid test provides valuable information on amino acid imbalance in the body by identifying:
Dietary protein adequacy
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
Renal and hepatic dysfunction, psychiatric abnormalities
Susceptibility to degenerative disorders
Inflammatory response and oxidative stress
Reduced detoxification capacity and many other inherent and acquired disorders
There are around 20 different amino acids in the urine. If the urine indicates any one or two of the amino acid levels as higher than normal, the person may have an inherent error of metabolism. Diagnosing it during infancy can prevent problems such as brain damage.
No prior preparation is required for the test. Clean catch urine sample is collected to perform the test. Few laboratories ask for first morning urine and few other prefer 24-hour urine test for assessing the amino acid levels. 24 hour urine test gives a detailed picture of highs and lows of various amino acid levels through the day, whereas first morning urine identifies current amino acid status and any existing imbalances. Reports are presented in a tabular format grouped into functional categories clearly indicating:
- Amino acids levels (both essential and non essential)
- Gastrointestinal markers
- Detoxification markers
- Neurological markers
- Magnesium dependent markers
- Urea cycle metabolites
- B12, B6, folate dependent markers
Urine amino acid analysis in itself cannot be used as the ultimate diagnostic tool and it is normally supported by specific and further testing to confirm genetic and metabolic disorders. However, test reports will help in identifying the exact deficiencies that are contributing to disorders and allow for the precise replacement of those amino acids. The report will help nutritionists to draw a right supplement plan to replenish the required amino acids in the body.
Amino acids are building blocks of protein and hence muscle tissue. Amino Acids are organic compounds consisting of an amino group and an acidic carboxyl group. They command the energy we have, the speed of recovery, weight loss and memory functions of the brain. Amino acids are critical for repairing organs, muscles, nails, skin, hair, ligaments and glands. It is amino acids that facilitate effective functioning of vitamins and minerals and maintaining metabolic activity.
The specific characteristics of each amino acid is derived from its side chain that lends it a unique role in a protein structure. The 20 amino acids are further classified as essential and non-essential amino acids.
Essential amino acids are those that cannot be made by the body and hence must be obtained from food.
Non-Essential Amino Acids are those that can be produced by the body from other amino acids. They can be synthesized from metabolic intermediates.
- Aspartic Acid
- Glutamic Acid
There are other Amino acids like Taurine which is an essential conditional amino acid so important for the development of brain tissue as well as being the key part of bile.
Amino Acid Deficiencies : Congenital enzyme deficiencies affecting amino acid metabolism may result in Aminoaciduria - a condition where the patient's urine has abnormal presence of amino acids. A genetic error in metabolizing phenylalanine amino acid causes Phenylketonuria (PKU).
Blood plasma screening tests and urine tests may help to determine the amino acid metabolism disorders such as:
- Tyrosinosis (metabolic disorder arising out of abnormal plasma L-tyrosine level)
- Histidinemia (metabolic disorder due to abnormal levels of histidine)
- Histidinuria (histidine transport deficiency)
- Hypervalinemia (disorder due to elevated levels of Valine, an amino acid, possibly owing to the deficiency of the enzyme valine transaminase)
- Hyperprolinemia (elevated blood levels of proline amino acid)
- Cystinuria (cystine in the urine)
- Homocystinuria (disorder due to methionine metabolism or Cystathionine Beta Synthase Deficiency)
Lysine or L-lysine is an amino acid which is widely administered as therapeutic agent for many medical conditions. It is an essential amino acid which the human body cannot synthesize. Lysine plays a significant role in growth and metabolism. Typically an adult requires 800 to 3,000 mg of lysine daily. It is available extensively in food sources such as beef, pork, parmesan cheese, sardines and cod liver. The other sources include legumes, soy, spirulina, fenugreek seeds and nuts.
Lysine has many uses as it is predominantly involved with the growth and development in the formative tissues and their respective repair mechanism. Lysine helps in lowering the blood cholesterol level through the production of carnitine as chief component which utilizes cholesterol for the generation of energy required for the metabolic activities. Inadequate lysine can result in loss of appetite, anemia, reproductive disorders and agitation.
The other metabolic associations of lysine is the formation of collagen and also tendons pertaining to muscle tissues. It helps in maintaining the dexterity of the muscles. Lysine can be administered the treatment of cold sores caused by Herpes simplex virus. Hence, it is being widely used to treat genital herpes and other forms of lesions associated with herpes. Lysine has the unique ability to absorb calcium and hence it prevents conditions such as osteoporosis. It enables calcium absorption by preventing the urinary loss of calcium.
Side effects pertaining to lysine are only applicable to overdose. Patients who have complaints of kidney disease or liver disease should consult physician before the administration of lysine supplements. Excess administration of lysine may lead to gallstones and pregnant women are not recommended to use lysine supplements.