Institute of Good Manufacturing Practices India®

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Eating excessive protein is bad for your arteries because of an amino acid

A recent study from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine reveals that consuming over 22% of dietary calories from protein can heighten immune cell activation associated with atherosclerotic plaque formation, increasing disease risk. Published in Nature Metabolism, the research integrates small human trials, mouse experiments, and cell cultures to uncover a molecular mechanism linking excessive dietary protein intake to atherosclerosis risk.

The study emphasizes the disproportionate role of leucine, found in animal-derived foods like beef and eggs, in driving pathological pathways related to atherosclerosis and arterial stiffness. Initial experiments on healthy human subjects determined the timing of immune cell activation following protein ingestion, replicated in mouse models and human macrophages. These cells, sensitive to amino acids from protein, exhibited compromised functionality with protein intake exceeding 22% of daily calories, leading to dysfunctional macrophage accumulation in vessel walls and exacerbating atherosclerotic plaque buildup. This underscores the potential for personalized dietary interventions targeting leucine-rich foods to mitigate disease risk, particularly relevant in clinical settings where protein-rich diets are recommended for muscle support in critically ill patients.