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Br J Nutr. 1996 May;75(5):669-82.

Rebalancing essential amino acids intake by self-selection in the rat.

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Laboratoire de Neurobiologie des R├ęgulations, Coll├Ęge de France, Paris, France.


The purpose of the present study was to assess whether rats are capable of selecting the right proportions of two diets that are individually inappropriate in terms of essential amino acid composition to satisfy their amino acid requirements. Rats were offered a choice of one protein-free regimen and another devoid of only one essential amino acid (either threonine or isoleucine) set up in such a way as to provide amino acid balance if they were consumed in 1/3 and 2/3 proportions respectively. Preliminary experiments had established that all our diets were aversive by themselves except for the 60 g casein/kg diet. Rats did reach almost the necessary proportion with, according to published standards (National Research Council, 1978), some excess in isoleucine intake. In addition, given access to two aversive diets that were each nutritionally inadequate, rats showed no aversion and gained body weight when they had the opportunity to consume both of them. Beyond the capacity that rats have of rebalancing their micronutrient intake, the present experiment brings out the idea that the imbalance-induced aversion:preference ratio may be completely upset when this omnivore has access to more than one feed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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