Estrogen controls branched-chain amino acid catabolism in female rats

Mariko Obayashi, Yoshiharu Shimomura, Naoya Nakai, Nam Ho Jeoung, Masaru Nagasaki, Taro Murakami, Yuzo Sato, Robert A. Harris

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21 Scopus citations


A diurnal rhythm occurs in the activity state of branched-chain α-keto acid dehydrogenase complex (BCKDC) in female but not male rats. We attempted to determine the role played by ovarian hormones in this difference in enzyme regulation. A series of experiments examined the effects of the 4-d estrous cycle, ovariectomy, and replacement of female sex steroids on the catabolism of BCAAs. A proestrous decrease in the activity state of the complex corresponded to an increase in the plasma 17β-estradiol level. Withdrawal of gonadal steroids by ovariectomy resulted in an increase in the activity state of BCKDC and a decrease in the activity of the branched-chain α-keto acid dehydrogenase kinase (BDK). However, 17β-estradiol reversed these effects, resulting in an increase in the BDK activity, thereby decreasing the activity of the complex. Progesterone administration was ineffective. The changes in the percentage of active BCKDC caused by 17β-estradiol withdrawal and replacement resulted from changes in the amount of BDK protein associated with the complex and therefore its activity. Thus, the marked diurnal variation in the activity state of BCKDC exhibited by female rats involves estrogenic control of BDK activity. We hypothesize that the 17β-estradiol-controlled feeding pattern produces these variations in BCKDC activity. This may function in female rats to conserve essential amino acids for protein synthesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2628-2633
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2004


  • 17β-estradiol
  • Branched-chain α-keto acid dehydrogenase complex
  • Kinase
  • Liver

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Food Science

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    Obayashi, M., Shimomura, Y., Nakai, N., Jeoung, N. H., Nagasaki, M., Murakami, T., Sato, Y., & Harris, R. A. (2004). Estrogen controls branched-chain amino acid catabolism in female rats. Journal of Nutrition, 134(10), 2628-2633.