Transamination governs nitrogen isotope heterogeneity of amino acids in rats

Alexander Braun, Armin Vikari, Wilhelm Windisch, Karl Auerswald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The nitrogen isotope composition (δ15N) of different amino acids carries different dietary information. We hypothesized that transamination and de novo synthesis create three groups that largely explain their dietary information. Rats were fed with 15N-labeled amino acids. The redistribution of the dietary 15N labels among the muscular amino acids was analyzed. Subsequently, the labeling was changed and the nitrogen isotope turnover was analyzed. The amino acids had a common nitrogen half-life of ∼20 d, but differed in δ15N. Nontransaminating and essential amino acids largely conserved the δ15N of the source and, hence, trace the origin in heterogeneous diets. Nonessential and nontransaminating amino acids showed a nitrogen isotope composition between their dietary composition and that of their de novo synthesis pool, likely indicating their fraction of de novo synthesis. The bulk of amino acids, which are transaminating, derived their N from a common N pool and hence their δ15N was similar.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8008-8013
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of agricultural and food chemistry
Issue number32
StatePublished - 13 Aug 2014


  • amino acid
  • isotopic scrambling
  • transamination


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