Hepatic response to increased exogenous supply of plasma amino acids by infusion into the mesenteric vein of Holstein-Friesian cows in late gestation

D Wray-Cahen, J A Metcalf, F R C Backwell, B J Bequette, David Stanley Brown, J D Sutton, Gerald Lobley

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The hepatic responses of late gestation, dry dairy cows to acute (6 h) infusions of an amino acid (AA) mixture (Synthamin; 0.0, 1.1, 2.2, 4.4, 8.8 and 17.6 mmol/min) into the mesenteric vein were determined. Neither blood how nor O-2 consumption across the portal-drained viscera (PDV) and liver was significantly altered by infusion. Similarly, there were no effects on net absorption, or hepatic removal, of acetate, propionate, butyrate or NH3. Glucose PDV appearance was unchanged but hepatic glucose production increased (P = 0.032) by 0.2 mmol/min per mmol/min of AA infused. Additional extraction of alanine, glycine (both infused) and glutamine (not infused) by the liver was sufficient to account for most of the extra C required for glucose synthesis. The N that would be liberated from these glucogenic AA would also account for a large proportion of the increase in urea-N produced in response to the AA infusion. This supports the concept of a correlation between gluconeogenesis and ureagenesis. Furthermore, the amide-N liberated from the extracted glutamine would contribute up to 0.17 of hepatic NH3 flux and assist in balancing N inputs into the carbamoyl phosphate and arginosuccinate entry points of the ornithine cycle. Rates of fractional extraction of the various AA by the Liver were best fitted by linear equations, indicating that even at the highest rates of administration (approximately twice maximal physiological absorption) the transport systems were not saturated. Hepatic fractional extractions of infused essential AA were highest for methionine (0.83) and phenylalanine (0.87) with the lowest proportion removed observed for valine (0.25), leucine (0.30), lysine (0.31) and isoleucine (0.49). For the non-essential AA, the highest apparent fractional extractions were for glycine (0.73), arginine (0.79) and tyrosine (0.63) followed by alanine (0.54), proline (0.47) and serine (0.37). Hepatic removal of AA-N exceeded the increase in urea-N formation such that, at the highest rate of infusion, approximately 10 mmol/min of the extracted AA was apparently available for hepatic anabolism, more than is required to account for assumed increases in liver mass and export protein synthesis. Similarly, the amount of AA available for peripheral tissue protein gain, when assessed against phenylalanine supply as the limitation, would be the equivalent of a maximum of 0.5 g protein retained/min (6 mmol AA-N/min). This would provide sufficient AA for replenishment of peripheral (muscle) protein stores plus support of the placenta and fetus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)913-930
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Journal of Nutrition
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1997


  • amino acids
  • urea
  • liver
  • cattle
  • portal-drained viscera
  • splanchic-bed
  • metabolism
  • sheep
  • transport
  • protein
  • blood
  • interconversions
  • nutrition


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