Animal Models of Human Amino Acid Responses1

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The principal differences between experimental animals and humans with regard to amino acid responses are 1) growing animals partition most of their amino acid intake to protein accretion, whereas growing children partition most of their intake to maintenance; 2) invasive assessment procedures are common in animals but very limited in humans; and 3) humans can describe how they feel in response to amino acid levels or balances, whereas animals cannot. New (pharmacologic) uses of amino acids have been and are being discovered (e.g., cysteine, arginine, leucine, glutamine), and this makes it imperative that tolerance limits be established. Work with pigs suggests that excessive intake of methionine and tryptophan present the biggest problems, whereas excessive intake of threonine, glutamate, and the branched-chain amino acids seems to be well tolerated.

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