Effects of dietary amino acid supplementation on measures of whole-body and muscle protein metabolism in aged horses

Christine M. Latham, Ashley L. Wagner, Kristine L. Urschel

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5 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to examine markers of whole-body and muscle protein metabolism in aged horses fed a diet typical for North American aged horses, supplemented with amino acids. In a replicated Latin square design, six aged horses (20 ± 1.1 years) were studied while receiving each of three isocaloric, isonitrogenous diets, a control treatment concentrate (CON; 100 mg/kg −1 BW day −1 lysine, 84 mg kg −1  day −1 threonine, 51 mg kg −1  day −1 methionine), LYS/THR (134 mg kg −1 BW day −1 lysine, 110 mg kg −1 BW day −1 threonine, 52 mg kg −1 BW day −1 methionine) and LYS/THR/MET (132 mg kg −1 BW day −1 lysine, 112 mg kg −1 BW day −1 threonine, 62 mg kg −1 BW day −1 methionine). In each 15-days period, urine and faeces were collected for assessment of nitrogen balance. Blood samples were collected before and after feeding for analysis of plasma urea nitrogen (PUN), glucose, insulin and plasma amino acid concentrations. Skeletal muscle samples were collected for measurement of proteins associated with muscle protein synthesis and degradation, and horses underwent stable isotope infusion procedures for comparison of differences in whole-body rates of protein synthesis and degradation. There was no effect of treatment on relative abundance of proteins involved in protein synthesis, nitrogen retention or phenylalanine kinetics. PUN concentrations tended to be higher for LYS/THR (p = 0.054) and were higher for LYS/THR/MET (p = 0.0056) than for CON. Atrogin-1 abundance tended to be higher in the post-absorptive state for the CON treatment (p = 0.07), indicating that amino acid supplementation resulted in less muscle protein degradation when horses were in the post-absorptive state. However, lack of differences in nitrogen retention and phenylalanine kinetics indicated that whole-body protein metabolism was not improved, and higher PUN concentrations in the supplemented diets suggest that the supplemented amino acids may have been catabolized. Amino acid availability was not limiting protein synthesis in the sedentary aged horses in this study when fed the CON diet.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-294
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Blackwell Verlag GmbH


  • aged
  • horse
  • lysine
  • methionine
  • threonine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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