Effect of the ratio between essential and nonessential amino acids in the diet on utilization of nitrogen and amino acids by growing pigs

N.P. Lenis, H.T.M. van Diepen, P. Bikker, A.W. Jongbloed, J. van der Meulen

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    In 36 growing pigs (30 to 60 kg), N balance and amino acid (AA) composition of weight gain were measured to evaluate the interactive effect of the ratio between N from essential amino acids (EAA(N)) to nonessential amino acids (NEAA(N)) and total N level (T(N)) in the diet on N retention and utilization of N, EAA(N), NEAA(N), and AA. Nine diets composed from ordinary feedstuffs and supplemented with crystalline AA were used (three EAA(N):NEAA(N) ratios of 38:62, 50:50, and 62:38 at three T(N) levels of 18.8, 22.9, and 30.0 g/kg). Pigs were fed restrictedly, at a level of 2.8 x energy for maintenance. In all diets, EAA (including arginine) supply was according to or slightly above the recommended ratios to lysine. Measurements were done in four blocks of nine pigs each. In a concomitant slaughter experiment, the AA composition of deposited body protein was determined to estimate AA utilization. The effects of T(N) and EAA(N):NEAA(N) and their interaction for N retention and utilization were significant. Nitrogen retention increased with higher T(N) in the diet. Increasing EAA(N):NEAA(N) from 38:62 to 50:50 improved N retention only at the two lower T(N) levels. Increasing EAA(N): NEAA(N) above 50:50 failed to improve N retention significantly at any of the three T(N) levels. Lowering T(N) improved the utilization of total and digested N and of EAA(N) and NEAA(N). The increase in EAA(N): NEAA(N) consistently resulted in a lower utilization of EAA(N), but this was compensated by a higher utilization of NEAA(N). The utilization of T(N) was improved by increasing EAA(N):NEAA(N) from 38:62 to 50:50 at the two lower T(N) levels and was relatively unaffected by EAA(N):NEAA(N) at the highest T(N). However, a lower utilization of N was observed at a ratio of 62:38 at a T(N) level of 22.9 g/kg. The effects were similar for utilization of individual EAA and NEAA. Utilization of alanine, aspartic acid, and glycine was close to or >100% at the highest EAA(N):NEAA(N), which was expected because all of these AA are synthesized in pigs. Also, the utilization of arginine was >100% in most of the treatments, which confirms the semiessential character of this AA for maintenance. We concluded that the required ratio of EAA(N):NEAA(N) for optimal N retention and utilization is approximately 50:50. The EAA(N):NEAA(N) is more important at lower dietary protein levels. This study indicates that EAA(N): NEAA(N) can be increased up to 70:30 without lowering the utilization of N. Thus, deaminated EAA(N) was efficiently utilized for the synthesis of NEAA(N).
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1777-1787
    JournalJournal of Animal Science
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 1999


    • Essential amino acids
    • Nitrogen retention
    • Nonessential amino acids
    • Pigs


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