Main content area

Small-intestinal or colonic microbiota as a potential amino acid source in animals

Bergen, Werner G.
Amino acids 2015 v.47 no.2 pp. 251-258
amino acid requirements, amino acid transporters, amino acids, bacteria, bacterial proteins, biomass, colon, dietary protein, digestion, enzymes, foregut, hindgut, humans, ileum, microbiome, nitrogen, nutritive value, peptides, proteolysis, radiolabeling, rats, swine, urea
Factors affecting physiological impacts of the microbiome on protein nutrition are discussed for hind-gut fermenters (humans, pigs, rodents). The microbiome flourishes in all gastrointestinal organs, and is a major source of amino acids to fore-gut fermenting animals. In humans, rats and pigs the net effect of microbiome biomass synthesis on amino acid requirements is much less certain. Dietary proteins, amino acids, peptides, endogenous-secreted protein and recycled urea may all be utilized as nitrogen source by growing bacteria in the small intestine and colon. The inclusions of radiolabelled amino acid precursors will result in labeled bacteria which can be digested and absorbed in the ileum and to some degree in the colon. This does not necessarily indicate a significant nutritional role of the microbiome in humans, pigs and rodents. The physiological attributes required for small-intestinal and colon microbiome utilization are a vigorous proteolytic digestion with pancreatic or intestinal enzymes and the presence of amino acid transporters. Findings to date seem to suggest that these two physiological attributes for effective bacterial protein utilization are present in the small intestine; however, these attributes have a much lower capacity/impact in the colon. The gastrointestinal microbiome is likely a protein source of medium to high nutritional quality, but overall the microbiome is not an important amino acid source in humans and animals fed amino acids at requirement levels.