Nutritional consequences of interspecies differences in arginine and lysine metabolism

Ronald O. Ball, Kristine L. Urschel, Paul B. Pencharz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

123 Scopus citations


Differences in lysine and arginine requirements among various species such as omnivores (humans, pigs, rats, dogs), carnivores (cats), herbivores (rabbits, horses), ruminants (cattle), poultry, and fish, are covered in detail in this article. Although lysine is classified as an indispensable amino acid across species, the classification of arginine as either an indispensable or dispensable amino acid is more ambiguous because of differences among species in rates of de novo arginine synthesis. Because lysine is most often the limiting amino acid in the diet, its requirement has been extensively studied. By use of the ideal protein concept, the requirements of the other indispensable amino acids can be extrapolated from the lysine requirement. The successful use of this concept in pigs is compared with potential application of the ideal protein concept in humans. The current dietary arginine requirement varies widely among species, with ruminants, rabbits, and rats having relatively low requirements and carnivores, fish, and poultry having high requirements. Interspecies differences in metabolic arginine utilization and reasons for different rates of de novo arginine synthesis are reviewed in detail, as these are the primary determinants of the dietary arginine requirement. There is presently no dietary requirement for humans of any age, although this needs to be reassessed, particularly in neonates. A thorough understanding of the factors contributing to the lysine and arginine requirements in different species will be useful in our understanding of human amino acid requirements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1626S-1641S
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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