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Amino acids and the early mammalian embryo: Origin, fate, function and life‐long legacy

Leese, Henry J.; McKeegan, Paul; Sturmey, Roger G.


Henry J. Leese


Amino acids are now recognised as having multiple cellular functions in addition to their traditional role as constituents of proteins. This is well-illustrated in the early mammalian embryo where amino acids are now known to be involved in intermediary metabolism, as energy substrates, in signal transduction, osmoregulation and as intermediaries in numerous pathways which involve nitrogen metabolism, e.g., the biosynthesis of purines, pyrimidines, creatine and glutathione. The amino acid derivative S-adenosylmethionine has emerged as a universal methylating agent with a fundamental role in epigenetic regulation. Amino acids are now added routinely to preimplantation embryo culture media. This review examines the routes by which amino acids are supplied to the early embryo, focusing on the role of the oviduct epithelium, followed by an outline of their general fate and function within the embryo. Functions specific to individual amino acids are then considered. The importance of amino acids during the preimplantation period for maternal health and that of the conceptus long term, which has come from the developmental origins of health and disease concept of David Barker, is discussed and the review concludes by considering the potential utility of amino acid profiles as diagnostic of embryo health


Leese, H. J., McKeegan, P., & Sturmey, R. G. (2021). Amino acids and the early mammalian embryo: Origin, fate, function and life‐long legacy. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(18), Article 9874.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 27, 2021
Online Publication Date Sep 19, 2021
Publication Date Sep 2, 2021
Deposit Date Sep 27, 2021
Publicly Available Date Sep 28, 2021
Journal International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Electronic ISSN 1660-4601
Publisher MDPI
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 18
Issue 18
Article Number 9874
Keywords Amino acids; Preimplantation embryo; Amino acid provision; Nutrition; Metabolism; Oviduct
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Published article (777 Kb)

Copyright Statement
Copyright: © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https:// 4.0/).

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