Amino Acids

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 169–175 | Cite as

Dietary l-arginine supplementation increases muscle gain and reduces body fat mass in growing-finishing pigs

  • Bie Tan
  • Yulong YinEmail author
  • Zhiqiang Liu
  • Xinguo Li
  • Haijun Xu
  • Xiangfeng Kong
  • Ruilin Huang
  • Wenjie Tang
  • Izuru Shinzato
  • Stephen B. Smith
  • Guoyao Wu
Original Article


Obesity in humans is a major public health crisis worldwide. In addition, livestock species exhibit excessive subcutaneous fat at market weight. However, there are currently few means of reducing adiposity in mammals. This study was conducted with a swine model to test the hypothesis that dietary l-arginine supplementation may increase muscle gain and decrease fat deposition. Twenty-four 110-day-old barrows were assigned randomly into two treatments, representing supplementation with 1.0% l-arginine or 2.05% l-alanine (isonitrogenous control) to a corn- and soybean meal-based diet. Growth performance was measured based on weight gain and food intake. After a 60-day period of supplementation, carcass and muscle composition were measured. Serum triglyceride concentration was 20% lower (P < 0.01) but glucagon level was 36% greater (P < 0.05) in arginine-supplemented than in control pigs. Compared with the control, arginine supplementation increased (P < 0.05) body weight gain by 6.5% and carcass skeletal-muscle content by 5.5%, while decreasing (P < 0.01) carcass fat content by 11%. The arginine treatment enhanced (P < 0.05) longissimus dorsi muscle protein, glycogen, and fat contents by 4.8, 42, and 70%, respectively, as well as muscle pH at 45 min post-mortem by 0.32, while reducing muscle lactate content by 37%. These results support our hypothesis that dietary arginine supplementation beneficially promotes muscle gain and reduces body fat accretion in growing-finishing pigs. The findings have a positive impact on development of novel therapeutics to treat human obesity and enhance swine lean-tissue growth.


Arginine Growth Muscle Fat Meat quality 



Acetyl-CoA carboxylase


Average daily gain


Dry matter


Longissimus dorsi


Nitric oxide





This work was supported by the National Basic Research Program of China (No. 2004CB117502), NSFC (30528006, 30671517, 30700581, 30771558, 30371038), the Outstanding Overseas Chinese Scholars Fund of The Chinese Academy of Sciences (No. 2005-1-4), Texas AgriLife Research (No. H-8200), and National Research Initiative Competitive Grant (No. 2008-35206-18762) from the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service Hunan Project C2007FJ1003.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bie Tan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yulong Yin
    • 1
    Email author
  • Zhiqiang Liu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Xinguo Li
    • 3
  • Haijun Xu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Xiangfeng Kong
    • 1
  • Ruilin Huang
    • 1
  • Wenjie Tang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Izuru Shinzato
    • 4
  • Stephen B. Smith
    • 5
  • Guoyao Wu
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.Laboratory of Animal Nutrition and Human Health and Key Laboratory of Agro-ecology, Institute of Subtropical AgricultureThe Chinese Academy of SciencesChangshaChina
  2. 2.The Graduate School of The Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Hunan Institute of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary MedicineChangshaChina
  4. 4.Ajinomoto Co., Inc.TokyoJapan
  5. 5.Department of Animal ScienceTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA

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