A pilot study for the intrinsic labeling of egg proteins with 15N and 13C

Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom. 2012 Jan 15;26(1):43-8. doi: 10.1002/rcm.5291.


The aim of this study was to produce intrinsically and uniformly doubly (15)N-(13)C-labeled proteins. These proteins can be used as intrinsic tracers of dietary amino acids, both α-amino groups and carbon skeletons, during postprandial metabolic utilization. Two (Rhodes) laying hens were fed for 16 days with a standard poultry diet supplemented with 0, 0.2% or 0.4% of a mixture of 20 doubly (15)N-(13)C-labeled AAs. A third hen was given a non-enriched diet, as the control. The eggs laid were collected over 24 days, from 3 days before to 4 days after supplementation. The (15)N and (13)C enrichments in proteins from white and yolk were measured by EA-IRMS and GC-C-IRMS for enrichment in individual amino acids. After 10 days of supplementation, the (15)N enrichment reached an isotopic plateau at 1500 to 3000 ‰, depending on the supplementation level, in both white and yolk while the (13)C enrichment was 220 to 650 ‰ in white and was 100 to 250 ‰ in yolk. The (15)N enrichment was similar among the amino acids, except for the aromatic ones in which the enrichment was lower. The δ(13)C values were variable among amino acids in both white and yolk, ranging from 77 ‰ for tyrosine to 555 ‰ for proline with the 0.2 % supplementation level. In conclusion, the incorporation of 0.2 % labeled amino acids in the hen diet allowed us to achieve sufficient enrichment for metabolic studies. However, due to the non-homogeneity of the (13)C labeling, adequate (13)C enrichment of individual amino acids must be considered depending on the investigated metabolic pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / analysis
  • Amino Acids / chemistry
  • Amino Acids / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Carbon Isotopes / analysis
  • Carbon Isotopes / metabolism*
  • Chickens
  • Egg Proteins / chemistry
  • Egg Proteins / metabolism*
  • Egg White / chemistry
  • Egg Yolk / chemistry
  • Female
  • Nitrogen Isotopes / analysis
  • Nitrogen Isotopes / metabolism*
  • Pilot Projects


  • Amino Acids
  • Carbon Isotopes
  • Egg Proteins
  • Nitrogen Isotopes