The Protein Digestibility-Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS)--a concept for describing protein quality in foods and food ingredients: a critical review

J AOAC Int. 2005 May-Jun;88(3):988-94.


Protein Digestibility-Corrected Amino Score (PDCAAS) is discussed. PDCAAS is now widely used as a routine assay for protein quality evaluation, replacing the more traditional biological methods [e.g., measurement of the Protein Efficiency Ratio (PER) in rats]. PDCAAS is based on comparison of the essential amino acid content of a test protein with that of a reference essential amino acid pattern and a correction for differences in protein digestibility as determined using a rat assay. Although PDCAAS is a rapid and useful method, it often shows discrepancies when compared to PER values. These discrepancies relate to the following issues: uncertainty about the validity of reference patterns, invalidity of correction for fecal (versus ileal) digestibility, truncation of PDCAAS values to 100%, failure to obtain full biological response after supplementation of the limiting essential amino acid, discrepancies between protein and amino acid digestibility, effects of processing on protein quality, and effects of the presence of antinutritional factors in the matrix containing the protein. Part of the discrepancy between PDCAAS and PER can be overcome by modifications of PDCAAS. This article describes some proposed modifications and puts forward the suggestion that the rat protein fecal digestibility assay be replaced by an in vitro ileal amino acid digestibility assay based on a computer-controlled gastrointestinal model.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / analysis*
  • Amino Acids / chemistry
  • Amino Acids, Essential / analysis*
  • Amino Acids, Essential / chemistry
  • Animal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Animals
  • Biological Availability
  • Body Weight
  • Chickens
  • Child, Preschool
  • Food Analysis / methods*
  • Food*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Ileum / metabolism
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Rats
  • Trypsin / chemistry


  • Amino Acids
  • Amino Acids, Essential
  • Proteins
  • Trypsin