BMC veterinary research

Arginine supplementation modulates pig plasma lipids, but not hepatic fatty acids, depending on dietary protein level with or without leucine.

PMID 28558680


In the present study, the effect of arginine and leucine supplementation, and dietary protein level, were investigated in commercial crossbred pigs to clarify their individual or combined impact on plasma metabolites, hepatic fatty acid composition and mRNA levels of lipid sensitive factors. The experiment was conducted on fifty-four entire male pigs (Duroc × Pietrain × Large White × Landrace crossbred) from 59 to 92 kg of live weight. Each pig was randomly assigned to one of six experimental treatments (n = 9). The treatments followed a 2 × 3 factorial arrangement, providing two levels of arginine supplementation (0 vs. 1%) and three levels of basal diet (normal protein diet, NPD; reduced protein diet, RPD; reduced protein diet with 2% of leucine, RPDL). Significant interactions between arginine supplementation and protein level were observed across plasma lipids. While dietary arginine increased total lipids, total cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, VLDL-cholesterol and triacylglycerols in NPD, the inverse effect was observed in RPD. Overall, dietary treatments had a minor impact on hepatic fatty acid composition. RPD increased 18:1c9 fatty acid while the combination of leucine and RPD reduced 18:0 fatty acid. Arginine supplementation increased the gene expression of FABP1, which contributes for triacylglycerols synthesis without affecting hepatic fatty acids content. RPD, with or without leucine addition, upregulated the lipogenic gene CEBPA but downregulated the fat oxidation gene LPIN1. Arginine supplementation was responsible for a modulated effect on plasma lipids, which is dependent on dietary protein level. It consistently increased lipaemia in NPD, while reducing the correspondent metabolites in RPD. In contrast, arginine had no major impact, neither on hepatic fatty acids content nor on fatty acid composition. Likewise, leucine supplementation of RPD, regardless the presence of arginine, promoted no changes on total fatty acids in the liver. Ultimately, arginine, leucine and dietary protein reduction seem to be unrelated with fatty liver development.