Specific roles of threonine in intestinal mucosal integrity and barrier function
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Threonine is the second or third limiting amino acid in swine or poultry diets. This nutrient plays a critical role in the maintenance of intestinal mucosal integrity and barrier function, which can be indicated by intestinal morphology, mucus production (number of goblet cells), transepithelial permeability, brush border enzyme activity, and growth performance. Dietary threonine restriction may decrease the production of digestive enzymes and increase mucosal paracellular permeability. A large proportion of dietary threonine is utilized for intestinal-mucosal protein synthesis, especially for mucin synthesis, and there is no oxidation of threonine by enterocytes. Because mucin proteins cannot be digested and reused, intestinal mucin secretion is a net loss of threonine from the body. Luminal threonine availability can influence synthesis of intestinal mucins and other proteins. Under pathological conditions, such as ileitis and sepsis, threonine requirement may be increased to maintain intestinal morphology and physiology. Collectively, knowledge about the role of threonine in mucin synthesis is critical for improving gut health under physiological and pathological conditions in animals and humans.
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