Hydrogen isotope (δ2H) analysis has been routinely used as an ecological tracer for animal movement and migration, yet a biochemical understanding of how animals incorporate this element in the synthesis of tissues is poorly resolved. Here, we apply a new analytical tool, amino acid (AA) δ2H analysis, in a controlled setting to trace the influence of drinking water and dietary macromolecules on the hydrogen in muscle tissue. We varied the δ2H of drinking water and the proportions of dietary protein and carbohydrates with distinct hydrogen and carbon isotope compositions fed to house mice among nine treatments. Our results show that hydrogen in the non-essential (AANESS) and essential (AAESS) AAs of mouse muscle is not readily exchanged with body water, but rather patterns among these compounds can be described through consideration of the major biochemical pathway(s) used by organisms to synthesize or route them from available sources. Dietary carbohydrates contributed more hydrogen than drinking water to the synthesis of AANESS in muscle. While neither drinking water nor dietary carbohydrates directly contributed to muscle AAESS, we did find that a minor but measurable proportion (10-30%) of the AAESS in muscle was synthesized by the gut microbiome using hydrogen and carbon from dietary carbohydrates. δ2H patterns among individual AAs in mice muscle are similar to those we previously reported for bacteria, which provides additional support that this approach may allow for the simultaneous analysis of different AAs that are more influenced by drinking water (AANESS) versus dietary (AAESS) sources of hydrogen.
Keywords: Amino acids; Compound-specific; Gut microbiome; Hydrogen isotopes; Mammal.