Dietary lysine affects amino acid metabolism and growth performance, which may not involve the GH/IGF-1 axis, in young growing pigs1

J Anim Sci. 2020 Jan 1;98(1):skaa004. doi: 10.1093/jas/skaa004.


Lysine is the first limiting amino acid (AA) in typical swine diets. Our previous research showed that dietary lysine restriction compromised the growth performance of late-stage finishing pigs, which was associated with the changes in plasma concentrations of nutrient metabolites and hormone insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). This study was conducted to investigate how dietary lysine restriction affects the plasma concentrations of selected metabolites and three anabolic hormones in growing pigs. Twelve individually penned young barrows (Yorkshire × Landrace; 22.6 ± 2.04 kg) were randomly assigned to two dietary treatments (n = 6). Two corn and soybean meal based diets were formulated to contain 0.65% and 0.98% standardized ileal digestible lysine as a lysine-deficient (LDD) and a lysine-adequate (LAD) diets, respectively. During the 8-week feeding trial, pigs had ad libitum access to water and their respective diets, and the growth performance parameters including average daily gain (ADG), average daily feed intake (ADFI), and gain-to-feed ratio (G:F) were determined. At the end of the trial, jugular vein blood was collected for plasma preparation. The plasma concentrations of free AA and six metabolites were analyzed with the established chemical methods, and the hormone concentrations were analyzed with the commercial ELISA kits. Data were analyzed with Student's t-test. The ADG of LDD pigs was lower (P < 0.01) than that of LAD pigs, and so was the G:F (P < 0.05) since there was no difference in the ADFI between the two groups of pigs. In terms of free AA, the plasma concentrations of lysine, methionine, leucine, and tyrosine were lower (P < 0.05), while that of β-alanine was higher (P < 0.01), in the LDD pigs. The total plasma protein concentration was lower (P < 0.02) in the LDD pigs, whereas no differences were observed for the other metabolites between the two groups. No differences were observed in the plasma concentrations of growth hormone (GF), insulin, and IGF-1 between the two groups as well. These results indicate that the lack of lysine as a protein building block must be the primary reason for a reduced body protein synthesis and, consequently, the compromised G:F ratio and ADG. The changes in the plasma concentrations of total protein and four AA suggest that the compromised growth performance might be associated with some cell signaling and metabolic pathways that may not involve the GH/IGF-1 axis.

Keywords: amino acid; growing pig; hormone; lysine; plasma metabolite.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial, Veterinary

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / metabolism
  • Animal Feed / analysis*
  • Animals
  • Diet / veterinary*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Growth Hormone / metabolism*
  • Ileum / metabolism
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism*
  • Lysine / administration & dosage*
  • Male
  • Soybeans / metabolism
  • Swine / physiology*
  • Weight Gain
  • Zea mays / chemistry


  • Amino Acids
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Growth Hormone
  • Lysine