Phenylalanine stable isotope tracer labeling of cow milk and meat and human experimental applications to study dietary protein-derived amino acid availability

Søren Reitelseder, Britt Tranberg, Jakob Agergaard, Kasper Dideriksen, Grith Højfeldt, Marie Emily Merry, Adam C. Storm, Kristian R. Poulsen, Erik T. Hansen, Gerrit Van Hall, Peter Lund, Lars Holm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
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Background & aims
Availability of dietary protein-derived amino acids (AA) is an important determinant for their utilization in metabolism and for protein synthesis. Intrinsic labeling of protein is the only method to directly trace availability and utilization. The purpose of the present study was to produce labeled milk and meat proteins and investigate how dietary protein-derived AA availability is affected by the protein-meal matrix.

Four lactating cows were infused with L-[ring-d5]phenylalanine and one with L-[15N]phenylalanine for 72 h. Milk was collected, and three of the [d5]phenylalanine cows were subsequently slaughtered. Two human studies were performed to explore plasma AA availability properties utilizing the labeled proteins. One study compared the intake of whey protein either alone or together with carbohydrates-fat food-matrix. The other study compared the intake of meat hydrolysate with minced beef. Cow blood, milk, meat and human blood samples were collected and analyzed by mass spectrometry.

Whey and caseinate acquired label to 15–20 mol percent excess (MPE), and the meat proteins reached 0.41–0.73 MPE. The [d5]phenylalanine appeared fast in plasma and peaked 30 min after whey protein alone and meat hydrolysate intake, whereas whey protein with a food-matrix and the meat minced beef postponed the [d5]phenylalanine peak until 2 and 1 h, respectively.

Phenylalanine stable isotope-labeled milk and meat were produced and proved a valuable tool to investigate AA absorption characteristics. Dietary protein in food-matrices showed delayed postprandial plasma AA availability as compared to whey protein alone and meat hydrolysate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3652-3662
JournalClinical Nutrition
Issue number12
Early online date26 Mar 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Mar 2020


  • Amino acid
  • Caseinate
  • Digestion
  • Meat
  • Protein hydrolysate
  • Whey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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