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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Important roles for the arginine family of amino acids in swine nutrition and production

Authors
item Wu, Guoyao - TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY
item Bazer, Fuller - TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY
item Davis, Teresa
item Jaeger, Laurie - TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY
item Johnson, Greg - TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY
item Kim, Sung Woo - N CAROLINA STATE UNIV
item Knabe, Darrell - TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY
item Meininger, Cynthia - TEXAS A&M HEALTH SCI CTR
item Spencer, Thomas - TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY
item Yin, Yu-Long - CHINESE ACADEMY OF SCI

Submitted to: Livestock Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 15, 2007
Publication Date: October 1, 2007
Citation: Wu, G., Bazer, F.W., Davis, T.A., Jaeger, L.A., Johnson, G.A., Kim, S.W., Knabe, D.A., Meininger, C.J., Spencer, T.E., Yin, Y-L. 2007. Important roles for the arginine family of amino acids in swine nutrition and production. Livestock Science. 112(1-2):8-22.

Interpretive Summary: Arginine, glutamine, glutamate, proline, aspartate, asparagine, ornithine, and citrulline comprise a family of amino acids that regulate metabolic pathways that are vital to health, growth, development, and reproduction. These molecules serve key regulatory functions in nutrient metabolism and the immune response. Yet, arginine is deficient in the milk of most mammals and may limit the growth of suckling, neonatal animals. We have shown that supplementation of the diet with arginine for pregnant pigs increases the birth weight of their newborn pigs. Dietary supplementation with arginine also increases the growth of milk-fed piglets. Supplementation of the diet with the arginine family of amino acids holds great promise to improve the health and growth of pigs worldwide.

Technical Abstract: Arginine, glutamine, glutamate, proline, aspartate, asparagine, ornithine, and citrulline are interconvertible via complex interorgan metabolism in most mammals (including the pig). The major sites for their metabolism are the small intestine, kidneys, and liver, with cortisol being a key regulatory hormone. Because these amino acids (except for ornithine and citrulline) are usually abundant in plant and animal tissue proteins, pig producers have traditionally paid little attention to supplementing the arginine family of amino acids to swine diets. However, results of recent studies indicate that these amino acids serve important regulatory functions in nutrient metabolism and immune response, thereby affecting the efficiency of feed utilization by pigs. Arginine and glutamine are the prototypes with well-defined functions and expanded applications to pork production. Arginine deficiency, induced by a reduction in intestinal synthesis of citrulline, is a major factor limiting maximal growth of milk-fed piglets. Both enzymological and metabolic studies discovered that low availability of "N"-acetylglutamate in enterocyte mitochondria is responsible for limited synthesis of citrulline from both glutamine and proline in 7- to 21-day-old suckling piglets. Thus, either dietary supplementation with arginine or oral administration of "N"-carbamylglutamate (a metabolically stable analogue of "N"-acetylglutamate) increased muscle protein synthesis and body-weight gain in milk-fed piglets. Moreover, dietary supplementation with glutamine to early-weaned piglets prevented intestinal atrophy and improved growth performance. Remarkably, supplementing arginine to the diet of pregnant gilts between days 30 and 114 of gestation markedly increased the number of live-born piglets and litter birth-weight. Large-scale availability of feed-grade arginine and glutamine holds great promise for improving animal health and nutrient utilization in pig production worldwide.

Last Modified: 7/30/2014
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