Plasma and intraluminal amino acid profiles were compared in normal subjects 30, 60, 120, 180 minutes after meals containing either a peptide-rich protein hydrolysate (H) or an equivalent free amino acid mixture (AA) as the nitrogen source. Except for asparagine (30 minutes) and glutamine (30 and 60 minutes), which were absorbed to a significantly (p less than 0.05) greater extent from the peptide mixture, there were no significant differences in the plasma increments of the remaining 13 amino acids at any time interval after the meals. Positive correlations (p less than 0.01 or less) between the amino acid composition of the hydrolysate and amino acid meals and both (1) the post-prandial increments in the individual plasma amino acids and (2) the residual intraluminal amino acid content suggested that the amino acid composition of ingested protein, rather than specialised free amino acid and peptide transport systems, dictated the pattern of amino acid absorption. The studies provide no evidence that peptides rather than free amino acids are the ideal nitrogen source in elemental diets.
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