3-Methyl Histidine

Blood
Optimal Result: 0 - 5 umol/L.

Both 1-methylhistidine and 3-methylhistidine are histidine metabolites which have been proposed as markers of meat intake. Note that some confusion exists in the literature regarding the numbering of atoms in the imidazole ring of histidine – 1 versus 3 – and thus, there is caution with interpretation and clinical significance of these two markers.

3-methylhistidine is a constituent of actin and myosin, the contractile proteins of skeletal muscles. Urinary excretion of 3-methylhistidine may be a result of muscle breakdown or consumption of meat fibers. Unlike 1-methylhistidine, 3-methylhistidine has been shown to increase in fasting states indicating catabolism of muscle tissue. Therefore, this marker is more variable with regards to animal protein consumption.

References:

- Cheung W, Keski-Rahkonen P, Assi N, et al. A metabolomic study of biomarkers of meat and fish intake. Am J Clin Nutr. 2017;105(3):600-608.

- Sjolin J, Hjort G, Friman G, Hambraeus L. Urinary excretion of 1-methylhistidine: a qualitative indicator of exogenous 3-methylhistidine and intake of meats from various sources. Metab: Clin Exp. 1987;36(12):1175-1184.

- Cuparencu C, Pratico G, Hemeryck LY, et al. Biomarkers of meat and seafood intake: an extensive literature review. Genes Nutr. 2019;14:35.

What does it mean if your 3-Methyl Histidine result is too high?

Elevated levels of 3-Methylhistidine (3-MH) in a urine panel can be indicative of various physiological and pathological conditions, particularly those related to muscle metabolism. 3-MH is a metabolite derived from the breakdown of proteins, specifically an amino acid called histidine, which is found in the actin and myosin of muscle tissues. Unlike 1-Methylhistidine, 3-MH is exclusively related to the degradation of these muscle proteins and is not significantly influenced by dietary intake of histidine.

Elevated urinary 3-MH levels are often seen in situations of increased muscle protein breakdown. This can occur in healthy individuals following intense physical exercise, especially strength training, as muscle fibers undergo repair and remodeling. However, persistently high levels of 3-MH may indicate excessive muscle catabolism, which can be a concern. Conditions such as cachexia (muscle wasting) in chronic diseases like cancer or chronic heart failure, prolonged bed rest or inactivity, or certain muscular disorders can lead to increased muscle degradation, reflected in higher 3-MH levels.

To address elevated 3-MH levels, it is essential to identify the underlying cause. If it's related to excessive physical training, moderating exercise intensity and ensuring adequate rest and recovery periods can help. For pathological muscle wasting, management strategies would depend on the underlying condition; this might include nutritional support to maintain muscle mass, physical therapy to promote muscle strength, and treatment of the primary disease causing muscle loss.

In cases where increased muscle breakdown is due to inactivity, gradual re-introduction of physical activity and muscle strengthening exercises can be beneficial. Nutritional interventions may also play a role; ensuring sufficient protein intake to support muscle maintenance and possibly supplementing with specific amino acids like branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) could be helpful.

It's important for individuals with elevated 3-MH levels to consult healthcare professionals for a comprehensive evaluation and tailored management plan. Addressing the root cause, whether it's a lifestyle factor or an underlying health condition, is crucial for effectively managing elevated 3-MH levels and maintaining overall muscle health. Regular monitoring and follow-up are essential in these scenarios.

What does it mean if your 3-Methyl Histidine result is too low?

3-methylhistidine is lower with low protein diets, or in vegetarian and vegan diets.

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