Developmental changes in the level of free and conjugated sialic acids, Neu5Ac, Neu5Gc and KDN in different organs of pig: a LC-MS/MS quantitative analyses

Glycoconj J. 2017 Feb;34(1):21-30. doi: 10.1007/s10719-016-9724-9. Epub 2016 Sep 9.


Recent studies have shown a relationship between the level of the sialic acid (Sia), N-glycolylneuraminic acid (Neu5Gc) in red meat and its risk in cancer, cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases. Unresolved is the Sia concentration in different organs of piglets during development. Our aim was to determine the level of free and conjugated forms of Neu5Gc, N-acetylneuraminic acid (Neu5Ac) and ketodeoxynonulsonic acid (Kdn) in fresh and cooked spleen, kidney, lung, heart, liver, and skeletal muscle from 3-days-old (n = 4-8), 38-days-old (n = 10) and adult piglets (n = 4) by LC-MS/MS. Our findings show: (1) Lung tissue from 3 days-old piglets contained the highest level of total Sia (14.6 μmol/g protein) compared with other organs or age groups; (2) Unexpectedly, Neu5Gc was the major Sia in spleen (67-79 %) and adult lung (36-49 %) while free Kdn was the major Sia in skeletal muscle. Conjugated Neu5Ac was the highest Sia in other organs (61-84 %); (3) Skeletal muscle contained the lowest concentration of Neu5Gc in fresh and cooked meat; (4) Kdn accounted for <5 % of the total Sia in most organs; (5) During development, the total Sia concentration showed a 44-79 % decrease in all organs; (6) In adult piglets, the high to low rank order of total Sia was lung, heart, spleen, kidney, liver and skeletal muscle. In conclusion, the high level of Neu5Gc in all organs compared to skeletal muscle is a potential risk factor suggesting that dietary consumption of organ meats should be discouraged in favor of muscle to protect against cancer, cardiovascular and other inflammatory diseases.

Keywords: Development; LC-MS/MS; Neu5Gc; Pig; Sialic acids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Heart / growth & development
  • Kidney / growth & development
  • Kidney / metabolism*
  • Lung / growth & development
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Muscle, Skeletal / growth & development
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Myocardium / metabolism*
  • Neuraminic Acids / analysis
  • Neuraminic Acids / metabolism*
  • Red Meat / standards
  • Sialic Acids / analysis
  • Sialic Acids / metabolism*
  • Spleen / growth & development
  • Spleen / metabolism
  • Sugar Acids / analysis
  • Sugar Acids / metabolism*
  • Swine


  • Neuraminic Acids
  • Sialic Acids
  • Sugar Acids