Arginine synthesis does not occur during first-pass hepatic metabolism in the neonatal piglet

Kristine L. Urschel, Anna K. Shoveller, Paul B. Pencharz, Ronald O. Ball

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


We have shown that first-pass intestinal metabolism is necessary for ≃50% of whole body arginine synthesis from its major precursor proline in neonatal piglets. Furthermore, the intestine is not the site of increased arginine synthesis observed during dietary arginine deficiency. Primed constant intravenous (iv) and intraportal (ip) infusions of L-[U-14C]proline, and iv infusion of either L-[guanido-14C]arginine or L-[4,5- 3H]arginine were used to measure first-pass hepatic arginine synthesis in piglets enterally fed either deficient (0.20 g·kg -1·day-1) or generous (1.80 g·kg -1·day-1) quantities of arginine for 5 days. Conversion of arginine to other urea cycle intermediates and arginine recycling were also calculated for both dietary treatments. Arginine synthesis (g·kg-1·day-1) from proline was greater in piglets (P < 0.05) fed the deficient arginine diet in both the presence (generous: 0.07; deficient: 0.17; pooled SE = 0.01) and absence (generous: 0.06; deficient: 0.20; pooled SE = 0.01) of first-pass hepatic metabolism. There was no net arginine synthesis from proline during first-pass hepatic metabolism regardless of arginine intake. Arginine conversion to urea, citrulline, and ornithine was significantly greater (P < 0.05) in piglets fed the generous arginine diet. Calculated arginine fluxes were significantly lower (P = 0.01) for [4,5-3H]arginine than for [guanido-14C]arginine, and the discrepancy between the values was greater in piglets fed the deficient arginine diet (35% vs. 20%). Collectively, these findings show that first-pass hepatic metabolism is not a site of net arginine synthesis and that piglets conserve dietary arginine in times of deficiency by decreasing hydrolysis and increasing recycling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E1244-E1251
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number6 51-6
StatePublished - Jun 2005


  • Arginine biosynthesis
  • First-pass metabolism
  • Proline

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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