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J Nutr. 2000 May;130(5):1320-8.

Time course and pattern of compensatory ingestive behavioral adjustments to lysine deficiency in rats.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA.


We and others have demonstrated that rats deficient in an essential amino acid (EAA) will consume sufficient quantities of the lacking nutrient to produce repletion when it is made available in solution. In the current series of experiments, we made rats deficient in lysine (LYS) by limiting the level of this EAA in the diet. We then examined licking behavior during approximately 23-h two-bottle intake tests over 4 consecutive days. In three separate experiments, rats were presented with the following: 1) 0.1 mol/L LYS and water, 2) 0.2 mol/L threonine (THR) and water and 3) 0.1 mol/L LYS and 0.2 mol/L THR. Lysine-deficient (LYS-DEF) rats drink significantly more LYS than did nondepleted controls (CON) when this amino acid was available. Meal pattern analysis revealed that the enhanced intake of LYS occurred as a function of a greater number of ingestive bouts, not changes in bout size. A cumulative analysis of LYS intake between CON and LYS-DEF rats revealed that a potentiation of intake developed within 30 min of sampling the solution when LYS and water were available and within 90 min when LYS and THR were the contrasting choices. In conclusion, increased LYS intake in the deficient rats occurs relatively rapidly and appears to be at least somewhat specific. Moreover, LYS deficiency does not seem to enhance the palatability of the limiting amino acid as judged by behaviors such as lick rate and bout size. Instead, LYS-DEF rats relieve the deficiency by increasing the number of drinking episodes initiated.

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