Maternal dietary protein deficiency decreases amino acid concentrations in fetal plasma and allantoic fluid of pigs. Academic Article uri icon


  • This study was conducted to test the hypothesis that maternal dietary protein deficiency decreases amino acid availability to the fetus, thereby contributing to retarded fetal growth. Primiparous gilts selected genetically for low or high plasma total cholesterol concentrations (low line and high line, respectively) were mated, and then fed 1.8 kg/d of isocaloric diets containing 13% or 0.5% crude protein. At d 40 or 60 of gestation, they were hysterectomized, and maternal and fetal blood samples as well as amniotic and allantoic fluids were obtained for analyses of amino acids, ammonia and urea. Dietary protein restriction decreased (P < 0.05) the following: 1) maternal plasma concentrations of urea at d 40 and 60 of gestation; 2) fetal plasma concentrations of alanine, arginine, branched-chain amino acids (BCAA), glutamine, glycine, lysine, ornithine, proline, taurine, threonine and urea at d 60 of gestation; 3) amniotic and allantoic fluid concentrations of urea at d 40 and 60 of gestation; and 4) allantoic fluid concentrations of alanine, arginine, BCAA, citrulline, cystine, glycine, histidine, methionine, proline, serine, taurine, threonine and tyrosine at d 40 of gestation, in gilts of both genetic lines. At d 60 of gestation, protein deficiency decreased (P < 0.05) allantoic fluid concentrations of arginine, cystine, glycine, taurine and tyrosine in low line gilts and of cystine, glutamine, ornithine, serine, taurine and tyrosine in high line gilts. Low line and high line gilts also differed remarkably in allantoic fluid concentrations of arginine, glutamine, ornithine and ammonia at d 40 and 60 of gestation. Our results suggest the following: 1) protein-deficient gilts maintain maternal plasma concentrations of amino acids by mobilizing maternal protein stores and decreasing oxidation of amino acids during the first half of gestation; 2) protein deficiency may impair placental transport of amino acids from the maternal to the fetal blood; and 3) low line and high line gilts differ in fetal amino acid metabolism. Decreases in concentrations of the essential and nonessential amino acids in the fetus may be a mechanism whereby maternal dietary protein restriction results in fetal growth retardation.

published proceedings

  • J Nutr

altmetric score

  • 6

author list (cited authors)

  • Wu, G., Pond, W. G., Ott, T., & Bazer, F. W.

citation count

  • 74

complete list of authors

  • Wu, G||Pond, WG||Ott, T||Bazer, FW

publication date

  • May 1998