Conclusions

As reviewed previously in detail (Matthews, 2000a,b), and augmented with the current discussion, the evidence is strong that the gastrointestinal epithelia of pigs, chickens, sheep and cattle possess a large capacity to digest proteins and absorb their constituent amino acids by the same mechanisms as other animals, albeit with some important distinctions. Unanswered questions regarding the application of flux and transport data to the design of all animal diets include the following:

  1. What is the capacity for peptide-bound versus free amino acid uptake by the gastrointestinal epithelia?
  2. Can this capacity be regulated in vivo by diet and(or) feeding regimens?
  3. Will increasing the amount of peptide-bound amino acids achieve greater amino acid absorption efficiencies?
  4. Is the development and use of model substrates and(or) protein hydrolysates to potentiate peptide absorption capacity economically feasible?

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