Amino Acids Analysis, Plasma


Amino Acids Analysis, Plasma

A Personalized Approach to Amino Acid and Micronutrient Assessment

The Amino Acids Analysis, Plasma is a blood test that measures 36 amino acids and intermediary metabolites. The report includes personalized amino acid recommendations based on amino acid levels, and functional vitamin and mineral cofactor recommendations based amino acid metabolism. Amino acids are important building blocks for every cell and system in the body, and require specific nutrients for metabolism and utilization.

When should testing for Amino Acids, Plasma be considered?

Amino acids are single unit building blocks that form protein. They play many important roles in the body including energy generation, neurotransmitter and hormone synthesis, tissue growth and repair, immune function, blood cell formation, maintenance of muscle mass, and detoxification. Testing is important in a variety of clinical scenarios. Certain dietary and lifestyle factors or conditions may predispose a person to having amino acid imbalances. There are multiple dynamic factors that influence amino acid levels including dietary intake, liver and kidney function, protein biosynthesis and degradation, hormones, stress, exercise, and intestinal health.1

Symptoms and conditions associated with plasma amino acid imbalances

  • Mood disorders2
  • Weight Issues/ Dietary Guidance3,4
  • Malnutrition or poor protein intake5,6
  • Maldigestion/ Malabsorption
  • Fatigue7-9
  • Athletic optimization10,11
  • Physical trauma/healing9,12
  • Kidney disease13
  • Liver disease
  • Obesity/ Insulin resistance/ Type 2 Diabetes14,15

*Genova’s amino acid reference ranges were not designed to be used for the diagnosis of Inborn Errors of Metabolism.

The Amino Acids Analysis, Plasma Biomarkers

The biomarkers included in the Amino Acids Analysis are arranged as follows:

  • Essential Amino Acids must be derived from dietary sources
  • Nonessential Amino Acids are synthesized by the body
  • Intermediary Metabolites are byproducts of amino acid metabolism
  • B Vitamin Markers are involved in biochemical reactions that specifically require B vitamins
  • Urea Cycle Markers are byproducts associated with nitrogen detoxification
  • Glycine/Serine Metabolites are involved in the choline to acetylcholine (neurotransmitter) pathway as well as methylation pathways
  • Dietary Peptide Related Markers can indicate incomplete protein breakdown

What is the difference between plasma and urine amino acids?

Certain analytes are measurable in blood versus urine and selection of sample type depends on the clinical concern. Food intake briefly increases plasma amino acid levels, which is why a fasting sample is recommended. Short-term fasting does not result in depletion of plasma amino acids, but long-term malnutrition does. The key differences between plasma and urine amino acids are summarized below.

Plasma Amino Acids (Fasting) Urine Amino Acids (First Morning Void)
Fasting sample represents “steady state” pool of amino acids; not affected by short-term diet fluctuations Represents recent dietary intake and metabolism – more variable compared to plasma
36 analytes 40 analytes
Useful for mood disorders, or uncontrolled and fluctuating diets Useful for controlled diets, or to assess the effects of a recent dietary change
Amino acid levels influenced by abnormal kidney function; preferred if patient has proteinuria Amino acid levels influenced by abnormal kidney function; urine testing dependent on healthy kidney function (biomarkers ratioed to urine creatinine)
Requires a blood draw Ideal for children or adults who do not like blood draws; urine conveniently collected at home

What advantage does the Amino Acids Analysis, Plasma offer compared to other diagnostics?

The Amino Acids Analysis identifies amino acid imbalances and potential vitamin and mineral needs for healthy amino acid metabolism. Genova provides a user-friendly report with clinically actionable results including:

  • Suggested amino acid recommendations based on the patient’s direct amino acid measurements
  • Suggested digestive support and vitamin and mineral recommendations based on an algorithmic calculation of functional need for cofactors in amino acid metabolism
  • Interpretation-At-A-Glance pages provide educational information on nutrient function, causes and complications of deficiencies, and dietary sources

Amino acid testing is often ordered for infant screening or in children suspected of having an inborn error of metabolism. Genova’s Amino Acid Analysis reference ranges were not designed for diagnosing these conditions. A patient with a clinical picture that is suggestive of one of these conditions warrants appropriate testing.

Genova’s Methodology

Plasma amino acids are measured via LC/MS/MS. Reference ranges are age and gender specific and are based on a questionnaire-qualified healthy cohort. Testing is not recommended for patients under 2 years old.

What can clinicians and patients expect from Amino Acid testing?

Personalized recommendations for amino acids, vitamins, minerals and digestive enzymes are provided for each patient. Nutritional needs may be addressed with supplements or diet, and further analysis may be required if maldigestion or malabsorption is suspected. Comprehensive stool testing or SIBO breath testing may be appropriate to investigate the possible cause for maldigestion/malabsorption.

Analyte List
Alpha-amino-N-butyric acid
Alpha-aminoadipic acid
Aspartic acid
Beta-aminoisobutyric acid
Gamma-aminobutyric acid
Glutamic acid
CPT Codes
1-Methylhistidine 82139
Specimen Requirements
2ml plasma (preserved with sulfosalicylic acid)


Additional Resources