Dietary and plasma total cysteine (tCys) have been associated with adiposity, possibly through interaction with stearoyl–CoA desaturase (SCD), which is an enzyme that is involved in fatty acid and energy metabolism. We evaluated the effect of a dietary intervention with low cysteine and methionine and high polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) on plasma and urinary sulfur amino acids and SCD activity indices. Fourteen normal-weight healthy subjects were randomized to a seven-day diet low in cysteine and methionine and high in PUFAs (Cys/Metlow + PUFA), or high in saturated fatty acids (SFA), cysteine, and methionine (Cys/Methigh + SFA). Compared with the Cys/Methigh + SFA group, plasma methionine and cystathionine decreased (p-values < 0.05), whereas cystine tended to increase (p = 0.06) in the Cys/Metlow + PUFA group. Plasma total cysteine (tCys) was not significantly different between the groups. Urinary cysteine and taurine decreased in the Cys/Metlow + PUFA group compared with the Cys/Methigh + SFA group (p-values < 0.05). Plasma SCD-activity indices were not different between the groups, but the change in cystine correlated with the SCD-16 index in the Cys/Metlow + PUFA group. A diet low in methionine and cysteine decreased plasma methionine and urinary cysteine and taurine. Plasma tCys was unchanged, suggesting that compensatory mechanisms are activated during methionine and cysteine restriction to maintain plasma tCys.
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