l-Glutamate nutrition and metabolism in swine
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L-Glutamate (Glu) has traditionally not been considered as a nutrient needed in diets for humans and other animals (including swine) due to the unsubstantiated assumption that animals can synthesize sufficient amounts of Glu to meet their needs. The lack of knowledge about Glu nutrition has contributed to suboptimal efficiency of global livestock production. Over the past 25 years, there has been growing interest in Glu metabolism in the pig, which is an agriculturally important species and also a useful model for studying human biology. Because of analytical advances in its analysis, Glu is now known to be a highly abundant free amino acid in milk and intracellular fluid, a major constituent of food and tissue proteins, and a key regulator of gene expression, cell signaling, and anti-oxidative reactions. Emerging evidence shows that dietary supplementation with 2% Glu maintains gut health and prevents intestinal dysfunction in weanling piglets, while enhancing their growth performance and survival. In addition, the inclusion of 2% Glu is required for dietary arginine to maximize the growth performance and feed efficiency in growing pigs, whereas dietary supplementation with 2% Glu reduces the loss of skeletal muscle mass in endotoxin-challenged pigs. Furthermore, supplementing 2% Glu to a corn- and soybean-meal-based diet promotes milk production by lactating sows. Thus, an adequate amount of dietary Glu as a quantitatively major nutrient is necessary to support maximum growth, development, and production performance of swine. These results also have important implications for improving the nutrition and health of humans and other animals.
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