1. The effects of dietary phosphorus and sulphaguanidine levels, and sex differences on: (a) phytate digestibility, (b) calcium and P utilization, (c) the activities of alkaline phosphatase (EC 126.96.36.199), alkaline phytase (EC 188.8.131.52) and acid phosphatase (EC 184.108.40.206) in the intestinal mucosa of male and female rats were investigated.
2. There was a linear increase in femur ash, Ca and P contents and the maximum force withstood by the fresh femurs as dietary P level was increased from 1.5 to 3.0 to 4.5 g/kg diet.
3. The apparent digestibilities of Ca, P and phytate-P decreased as the level of P in the diet increased. Rats given the diets with 1.5 or 3.0 g P/kg were hypercalciuric and hypophosphaturic compared with rats receiving 4.5 g P/kg diet.
4. The level of Ca retained was similar for all treatments. The level of P retained increased as the dietary P level increased. This suggests that P deprivation was a result of inadequate amounts of P retained and not due to the absorption of inositol phosphates formed during the enzymic hydrolysis of phytate.
5. The addition of sulphaguanidine increased phytate digestibility without changing the activities of acid and alkaline phosphatase or alkaline phytase of the intestinal mucosa. This suggests that these enzymes did not play a role in the increase in phytate digestibility. However, dietary sulphaguanidine enhanced phytate digestibility, suggesting that alterations in the diet which modify either the composition or metabolism of the gastrointestinal microflora may be beneficial in enhancing the in vivo hydrolysis of phytate.
6. Differences between males and females are reported and discussed.