Transthyretin (TTR) is a small liver-secreted plasma protein that shows close correlations with changes in lean body mass (LBM) during the entire human lifespan and agglomerates the bulk of nitrogen (N)-containing substrates, hence constituting the cornerstone of body building. Amino acids (AAs) dietary restriction causes inhibition of TTR production and impairs the accretion of LBM reserves. Inflammatory disorders result in cytokine-induced abrogation of TTR synthesis and urinary leakage of nitrogenous catabolites. Taken together, the data indicate that malnutrition and inflammation may similarly suppress the production of TTR through distinct and unrelated pathophysiological mechanisms while operating in concert to downsize LBM stores. The hepatic synthesis of TTR integrates both machineries, acting as a marker of reduced LBM resources still available for defense and repair processes. TTR operates as a universal surrogate analyte that allows for the grading of residual LBM capacity to reflect disease burden. Measurement of TTR is a simple, rapid, and inexpensive micro-method that may be reproduced on a daily basis, hence ideally suited for the follow-up of the most intricated clinical situations and as a reliable predictor of any morbidity outcome.