Ileal and faecal protein digestibility measurement in humans and other non-ruminants - a comparative species view

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A comparative non-ruminant species view of the contribution of the large intestinal metabolism to inaccuracies in nitrogen and amino acid absorption measurements is provided to assess potential implications for the determination of crude protein/amino acid digestibility in adult humans consuming lower digestible protein sources. Most of the amino acids in the hindgut are constituents of the microorganisms and significant microbial metabolism of dietary and endogenous amino acids occurs. Bacterial metabolism of nitrogen-containing compounds leads to a significant disappearance of nitrogen in the large intestine. Literature data show that some 79 % of the nitrogen entering the large intestine of the horse is absorbed. For dogs, sows, and growing pigs these estimates are 49, 34 and 16 %, respectively. The coefficient of gut differentiation of humans compares closely to that of dogs while the coefficient of fermentation in humans is the lowest of all non-ruminant species and closest to that of cats and dogs. Large intestinal digesta transit times of humans compare closest to adult dogs. Significant amino acid metabolism has been shown to occur in the large intestine of the adult dog. Use of the growing pig as an animal model is likely to underestimate the fermentation of amino acids in the human large intestine. Based on the significant degree of fermentation of nitrogen-containing components in the large intestine of several non-ruminant species, it can be expected that determination of amino acid digestibility at a faecal level in humans consuming low quality proteins would not provide accurate estimates of the amino acids absorbed by the intestine.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S247-S257
JournalBritish Journal of Nutrition
Issue numberSuppl. S2
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • amino-acid transporter
  • large-bowel fermentation
  • gastrointestinal transit times
  • intestinal epithelial-cells
  • peas pisum-sativum
  • raw potato starch
  • dietary-protein
  • growing-pigs
  • apparent digestibility
  • radiopaque markers


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