Folate deficiency in rats fed amino acid diets.
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Growth rate, hematological changes, serum, erythrocyte and liver folate levels, and urinary excretion of formiminoglutamic acid (FIGLU) were measured in rats fed p-aminobenzoic acid (PABA)-free, sulfonamide-supplemented purified amino acid diets with and without folic acid and fiber, individually and in combination. Fiber had no effect on growth but was necessary to prevent mortality in the absence of folic acid. Folic acid did not affect growth during the first 40 days, but after this period rats failed to gain weight in the absence of folic acid. Although blood hematocrit was lower when the diet was devoid of fiber and folic acid and leucocyte counts were lower when the diets were devoid of folic acid, the hematological values remained within normal physiological limits for healthy rats of comparable age. FIGLU excretion was increased and serum, erythrocyte and liver folate levels were depressed when rats were fed folic acid-free diets for 28 days. Neutrophil hypersegmentation was clearly evident after 28 days of feeding the folic acid-free diets. The use of an amino acid diet without PABA but containing 5% fiber and 1% succinylsulfathiazole is a useful system to study chronic folic acid deficiency in the rat.