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J Anim Sci. 2006 Apr;84 Suppl:E60-72.

Measuring splanchnic amino acid metabolism in vivo using stable isotopic tracers.

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USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center, Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


The splanchnic bed comprises the liver and the portal-drained viscera (PDV). The PDV, which include the stomach, intestines, pancreas, and spleen, represent 4 to 6% of BW, yet they account for 20 to 35% of whole-body protein turnover and energy expenditure. Because the PDV are the first to be exposed to the diet, their nutrient needs are met first. Consequently, the extraction of dietary nutrients, especially AA, by the intestine will have a critical influence on their availability to peripheral tissues and therefore, on whole body requirements. Moreover, the systemic availability of dietary AA is a key determinant of lean body growth rate. A complicating factor in the measurement of intestinal nutrient use is that the intestinal epithelial cells receive nutrients from 2 sources: the diet and the arterial circulation. However, combining measurements of the net portal balance with those of isotopic enrichments from enterally and intravenously administered stable isotope-labeled AA provides an in vivo model that can be used to determine the proportion of AA extracted by the intestine from either source. Using this technique in fed animals demonstrated that the PDV contribute significantly to the use of essential (>60% of threonine) and nonessential (>90% of glutamate) AA provided by the diet. The relative use by the PDV of individual AA from the diet and arterial inputs varies widely, and dietary AA are the preferred fuel over dietary glucose. Stable isotope-labeled AA also enable the determination of the metabolic fate of individual AA. Using this technique, studies have shown that an insufficient protein supply or the mode of feeding affects AA use by the PDV, and consequently, may affect whole-body growth.

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