Postprandial Amino Acid Kinetics of Milk Protein Mixtures are Affected by Composition, but Not Denaturation, in Neonatal Piglets

Rebecca J. Welch-Jernigan, Evan Abrahamse, Barbara Stoll, O. Smith, Peter A. Wierenga, Bert J.M. Van De Heijning, Ingrid B. Renes, Douglas G. Burrin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Multiple studies have indicated that formula-fed infants show a different growth trajectory compared with breastfed infants. The observed growth rates are suggested to be linked to higher postprandial levels of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) and insulin related to differences in protein quality. Objective: We evaluated the effects of milk protein denaturation and milk protein composition on postprandial plasma and hormone concentrations. Methods: Neonatal piglets were bolus-fed randomly, in an incomplete crossover design, 2 of 3 milk protein solutions: Native whey protein isolate (NWPI), denatured whey protein isolate (DWPI), or protein base ingredient, comprising whey and casein (PBI). Postprandial plasma amino acids (AAs), insulin, glucagon-like peptide 1, glucose, and paracetamol concentrations were assayed. Plasma responses were fitted with a model of first-order absorption with linear elimination. Results: DWPI (91% denatured protein) compared with NWPI (91% native protein) showed lower essential amino acids (EAAs) (∼10%) and BCAA (13-19%) concentrations in the first 30-60 min. However, total amino acid (TAA) concentration per time-point and area under the curve (AUC), as well as EAA and BCAA AUC were not different. PBI induced a ∼30% lower postprandial insulin spike than NWPI, yet plasma TAA concentration at several time-points and AUC was higher in PBI than in NWPI. The TAA rate constant for absorption (ka) was twofold higher in PBI than in NWPI. Plasma BCAA levels from 60 to 180 min and AUC were higher in PBI than in NWPI. Plasma EAA concentrations and AUCs in PBI and NWPI were not different. Conclusions: Denaturation of WPI had a minimal effect on postprandial plasma AA concentration. The differences between PBI and NWPI were partly explained by the difference in AA composition, but more likely differences in protein digestion and absorption kinetics. We conclude that modifying protein composition, but not denaturation, of milk protein solutions impacts the postprandial amino acid availability in neonatal piglets.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbernzy102
JournalCurrent Developments in Nutrition
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 11 Mar 2019


  • amino acids
  • human milk
  • infant formula
  • insulin
  • neonatal piglets
  • whey protein


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