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The gastrointestinal tract (GIT) is a metabolically significant site of sulfur amino acid (SAA) metabolism in the body and metabolises about 20 % of the dietary methionine intake which is mainly transmethylated to homocysteine and trans-sulfurated to cysteine. The GIT accounts for about 25 % of the whole-body transmethylation and trans-sulfuration. In addition, in vivo studies in young pigs indicate that the GIT is a site of net homocysteine release and thus may contribute to the homocysteinaemia. The gut also utilises 25 % of the dietary cysteine intake and the cysteine uptake by the gut represents about 65 % of the splanchnic first-pass uptake. Moreover, we recently showed that SAA deficiency significantly suppresses intestinal mucosal growth and reduces intestinal epithelial cell proliferation, and increases intestinal oxidant stress in piglets. These recent findings indicate that intestinal metabolism of dietary methionine and cysteine is nutritionally important for intestinal mucosal growth. Besides their role in protein synthesis, methionine and cysteine are precursors of important molecules. S-adenosylmethionine, a metabolite of methionine, is the principal biological methyl donor in mammalian cells and a precursor for polyamine synthesis. Cysteine is the rate-limiting amino acid for glutathione synthesis, the major cellular antioxidant in mammals. Further studies are warranted to establish how SAA metabolism regulates gut growth and intestinal function, and contributes to the development of gastrointestinal diseases. The present review discusses the evidence of SAA metabolism in the GIT and its functional and nutritional importance in gut function and diseases.
Characterisation and identification of peptides (800 to 5000 Da) generated by intestinal digestion of fish or meat were performed using MS analyses (matrix-assisted laser desorption ionisation time of flight and nano-liquid chromatography electrospray-ionisation ion trap MS/MS). Four pigs fitted with cannulas at the duodenum and jejunum received a meal exclusively made of cooked Pectoralis profundus beef meat or cooked trout fillets. A protein-free meal, made of free amino acids, starch and fat, was used to identify peptides of endogenous origin. Peptides reproducibly detected in digesta (i.e. from at least three pigs) were evidenced predominantly in the first 3 h after the meal. In the duodenum, most of the fish- and meat-derived peptides were characteristic of a peptic digestion. In the jejunum, the majority of peptides appeared to result from digestion by chymotrypsin and trypsin. Despite slight differences in gastric emptying kinetics and overall peptide production, possibly in relation to food structure and texture, six and four similar peptides were released after ingestion of fish or meat in the duodenum and jejunum. A total of twenty-six different peptides were identified in digesta. All were fragments of major structural (actin, myosin) or sarcoplasmic (creatine kinase, glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase and myoglobin) muscle proteins. Peptides were short ( < 2000 Da) and particularly rich in proline residues. Nineteen of them contained bioactive sequences corresponding mainly to an antihypertensive activity. The present work showed that after fish or meat ingestion, among the wide variety of peptides produced by enzymic digestion, some of them can be reproducibly observed in intestinal digesta.
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