Dietary Regulation of Intestinal Brush-Border Sugar and Amino Acid Transport in Carnivores

Am J Physiol. 1991 Oct;261(4 Pt 2):R793-801. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.1991.261.4.R793.


The ability of omnivores and herbivores to regulate reversibly their intestinal brush-border nutrient transporters is functionally related to the unpredictably variable composition of their natural diets. To determine whether carnivores are able similarly to regulate the activities of their intestinal nutrient transporters, we fed to three species of vertebrates that are carnivorous as adults (cats, mink, and leopard frogs) diets with either at least 50% digestible carbohydrate or with negligible carbohydrate levels. Rates of transport for the sugars glucose and fructose and the amino acids (AAs) aspartate, leucine, lysine, and proline were measured throughout the intestine (only proline and glucose in the frogs) by an in vitro everted-sleeve method. Although all three species consume much carbohydrate during early development, only the mink was able to regulate sugar transporter activity in response to changes in levels of dietary carbohydrate. In contrast, the sugar transporters of the cat were unresponsive to varying carbohydrate levels, and long-term feeding of a high-carbohydrate diet caused down-regulation of sugar transport in frogs. Of the three species, only the mink is a member of a family that includes omnivorous species, whereas all members of the families to which the cat and frog belong are carnivorous as adults. All three species were able to regulate rates of AA transport, though the patterns and magnitude of the responses differed between species as well as between AAs, suggesting independent regulation of some AA transporters.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / pharmacokinetics*
  • Animals
  • Anura
  • Biological Transport
  • Carbohydrates / pharmacokinetics*
  • Carnivora / metabolism*
  • Cats
  • Diet*
  • Female
  • Glucose / pharmacokinetics
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Intestines / anatomy & histology
  • Male
  • Microvilli / metabolism
  • Mink
  • Proline / pharmacokinetics
  • Weight Gain


  • Amino Acids
  • Carbohydrates
  • Proline
  • Glucose