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Free amino acid concentrations in plasma, muscle and liver as indirect measures of protein adequacy in growing chickens

  • I. Fernández-Fígares (a1), C. Prieto (a1), R. Nieto (a1) and J. F. Aguilera (a1)


An experiment was carried out to study the effect of changes in either the quality or the quantity of dietary protein intake on the free essential amino acid profiles in plasma, muscle or liver of growing chickens. Following a randomized paired-feeding design based on metabolic body weight (kg M0·75), White Rock male broilers were allocated to one of three isoenergetic (14·5 kJ metabolizable energy per g dry matter (DM)) semisynthetic diets containing different levels of protein (60, 120, 180 or 240 g/kg DM). All diets were based on soya-bean meal, as the sole source of protein, either unsupplemented (diets S) or supplemented with 20 g/kg L-lysine (diets SL) or 2 g/kg DL-methionine (diets SM). Samples of blood, biceps muscle and liver were taken and amino acid analysis was determined by high performance liquid chromatography. Plasma was only adequate to detect the effect of the supplementation with methionine to balance the dietary amino acid (AA) profile. Plasma concentrations of free methionine significantly increased as a result of the supplementation with methionine (P < 0·001) and remained unaffected by the amount of protein ingested. When lysine was added to diets S to induce an AA imbalance, a significant increase in muscle concentrations of free valine, isoleucine and phenylalanine (P <0·05) and a significant decrease in liver concentrations of free arginine and phenylalanine were observed (P<0·05). The supplementation with DL-methionine gave rise to a significant fall in the concentrations of free histidine, glycine and threonine (P < 0·05) and increased those of isoleucine and methionine in the skeletal muscle (P < 0·05), while in liver it significantly lowered the concentrations of free arginine, valine, leucine, phenylalanine and methionine (P < 0·001 to P < 0·05) and raised that of free glycine (P < 0·001). The ratios lysine: phenylalanine, lysine: valine and methionine: glycine in muscle together with that of methionine: glycine in liver seem to be appropriate indexes of the adequacy of the dietary AA profile to requirements.



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