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Domest Anim Endocrinol. 2007 Jul;33(1):47-61. Epub 2006 May 2.

Tryptophan enhances ghrelin expression and secretion associated with increased food intake and weight gain in weanling pigs.

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National Key Laboratory of Animal Nutrition, Ministry of Agriculture Feed Industry Center, China Agricultural University, No. 2 Yuanmingyuan West Road, Beijing 100094, PR China.


These studies were conducted to determine whether ghrelin, a 28-amino acid peptide produced mainly by the stomach, was involved in tryptophan-mediated appetite stimulation in swine. In experiment 1, 36 crossbred (Long WhitexLarge White) barrows were used in a 2x3 factorial design to determine the effects of food intake (ad libitum versus limit fed) and tryptophan level (0.12%, 0.19% and 0.26%) on growth performance as well as ghrelin expression, plasma insulin, ghrelin and leptin levels. Ad libitum fed pigs gained more weight, but had poorer feed conversion than limit fed pigs. Weight gain, food intake and feed conversion all improved with increased ingestion of dietary tryptophan. Ad libitum feeding increased plasma insulin. Plasma insulin was unaffected by the level of dietary tryptophan. However, plasma leptin was significantly lower in pigs fed 0.19% tryptophan compared to those fed 0.12% tryptophan. Plasma ghrelin levels and ghrelin mRNA level in gastric fundus and duodenun was significantly higher in pigs fed 0.19% and 0.26% tryptophan diet compared with pigs fed 0.12%. In the second experiment, 18 crossbred barrows were divided into three treatments involving oral infusion of saline, tryptophan (40mg/kg BW) or 5-hydroxytryptophan (40mg/kg BW). Plasma ghrelin levels at 20, 40 and 60min after infusion of tryptophan were higher than after saline and 5-hydroxytryptophan infusion, 5-hydroxytryptophan infusion induced lower food intake than saline infusion, and tryptophan infusion increased food intake 2, 8 and 24h after infusion. In conclusion, oral tryptophan ingestion increased ghrelin expression in gastric fundus and plasma ghrelin level.

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