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Anim Sci J. 2018 Jan;89(1):3-11. doi: 10.1111/asj.12937. Epub 2017 Nov 22.

Regulation of intestinal health by branched-chain amino acids.

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Institute of Animal Nutrition, Sichuan Agricultural University, Ya'an, China.
Evonik Degussa (China) Co. Ltd., Beijing, China.
Evonik Nutrition & Care GmbH, Hanau-Wolfgang, Germany.


Besides its primary role in the digestion and absorption of nutrients, the intestine also interacts with a complex external milieu, and is the first defense line against noxious pathogens and antigens. Dysfunction of the intestinal barrier is associated with enhanced intestinal permeability and development of various gastrointestinal diseases. The branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are important nutrients, which are the essential substrates for protein biosynthesis. Recently, emerging evidence showed that BCAAs are involved in maintaining intestinal barrier function. It has been reported that dietary supplementation with BCAAs promotes intestinal development, enhances enterocyte proliferation, increases intestinal absorption of amino acids (AA) and glucose, and improves the immune defenses of piglets. The underlying mechanism of these effects is mediated by regulating expression of genes and proteins associate with various signaling pathways. In addition, BCAAs promote the production of beneficial bacteria in the intestine of mice. Compelling evidence supports the notion that BCAAs play important roles in both nutrition and intestinal health. Therefore, as functional amino acids with various physiological effects, BCAAs hold key roles in promoting intestinal development and health in animals and humans.


branched-chain amino acids; intestinal health; piglets

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