Metabolism of threonine in newborn infants

Prabhu S. Parimi, Lourdes L. Gruca, Satish C. Kalhan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Threonine kinetics, threonine oxidative pathway, and the relationship between threonine and whole body protein turnover were quantified in 10 healthy term infants during the first 48 h after birth. The kinetic data were obtained 6 h after the last feed (fasting) and in response to formula feeding, using [U-13C4,15N]threonine, [2H5]phenylalanine, and [15N]glycine tracers. The rate of carbon dioxide production (V̇ CO2) and 13C enrichment of the expired CO2 were measured to quantify the rate of oxidation of threonine. The rate of appearance (Ra) of threonine (136 ± 37 μmol·kg-1·h-1) was higher in newborn infants than that reported in adults. Formula feeding resulted in a significant decrease in threonine Ra (P < 0.05). A significant positive correlation was seen between phenylalanine Ra and threonine Ra, both during fasting and after formula feeding (r2 = 0.65). In contrast to a 1:1 ratio of threonine and phenylalanine in mixed muscle protein, threonine Ra relative to phenylalanine Ra was 2.2 ± 0.4. The fractional rate of threonine flux oxidized was 20% during fasting and 26% (P < 0.05) in response to nutrient administration. There was a significant correlation between plasma threonine concentration and threonine oxidation (r2 = 0.75). No measurable incorporation of threonine in plasma glycine was seen. These data suggest that threonine is exclusively degraded by the glycine-independent serine/threonine dehydratase pathway. A higher flux of threonine relative to phenylalanine indicates higher turnover of threonine enriched proteins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E981-E985
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Glycine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Stable isotopes
  • Threonine oxidation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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