Arginine catabolism in lactating porcine mammary tissue. Academic Article uri icon


  • In vivo studies have shown that the uptake of plasma arginine by the lactating porcine mammary gland greatly exceeds the output of arginine in milk, but little is known about the metabolic fate of arginine in this organ. The objective of this study was to quantify arginine catabolism via arginase and nitric oxide synthase pathways in the mammary tissue of sows on d 28 of lactation. Mammary tissue slices (approximately 60 mg) were incubated at 37 degrees C for 1 h in 2 mL of Krebs bicarbonate buffer containing 0.5 or 2 mM L-[U-14C]arginine, and arginine metabolites were measured using HPLC and radiochemical techniques. Rates of arginine utilization were similar to rates of urea production. Proline, ornithine, urea, glutamate, glutamine, CO2 and polyamines (putrescine + spermidine + spermine) were formed from arginine, accounting for 46, 31, 17, 2.3, 1.5, 0.22, and 0.30%, respectively, of the metabolized arginine carbons. Relatively small amounts of arginine were utilized for nitric oxide and citrulline synthesis, with citrulline accounting for 2% of the metabolized arginine carbons. Production of all arginine metabolites increased with increasing extracellular arginine concentrations from 0.5 to 2 mM, indicating a high capacity for arginine degradation. Consistent with the metabolic findings, the activities of arginases, ornithine aminotransferase, and pyrroline-5-carboxylate reductase were high, whereas those of pyrroline-5-carboxylate dehydrogenase, ornithine decarboxylase, and nitric oxide synthases were relatively low, and there was no proline oxidase, ornithine carbamoyltransferase or pyrroline-5-carboxylase synthase activity in the mammary tissue. Our results demonstrate for the first time that proline, ornithine, and urea were the major products of arginine catabolism via the arginase pathway in lactating porcine mammary tissue and provide a biochemical basis to explain a relative enrichment of proline but a relative deficiency of arginine in sow's milk.

published proceedings

  • J Anim Sci

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • O'Quinn, P. R., Knabe, D. A., & Wu, G.

citation count

  • 62

complete list of authors

  • O'Quinn, PR||Knabe, DA||Wu, G

publication date

  • February 2002