Milk protein quantity and quality in low-birth-weight infants. III. Effects on sulfur amino acids in plasma and urine

Gerald E. Gaull, David K. Rassin, Niels C R Räihä, Kirsti Heinonen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

183 Scopus citations


Well, appropriate-for-gestational age, low-birth-weight infants weighing 2,100 gm or less were divided intothree gestational age groups and assigned randomly within each age group to one of five feeding regimens: pooled human milk; formula 1 (F1)=1.5 gm/dl protein, 60 parts bovine whey proteins: 40 parts bovine caseins; F2=3.0 gm/dl, 60:40; F3=1.5 gm/dl, 18:82; F4=3.0 gm/dl, 18:82. Plasma and urine concentrations of methionine and of cystathionine were higher in the infants fed F1 to F4 than in the infants fed BM. The plasma cystine concentrations of the infants fed F1 or F3 were no different from those fed BM. Plasma cystine concentrations of infants fed F2 (which had a cystine content at least twice that of any of the other formulas) were significantly higher than those of infants fed BM. Plasma taurine concentrations of infants fed F3 or F4, which were virtually devoid of taurine, decreased steadily during the course of study becoming lower than those of infants fed BM. Urine taurine concentrations of infants fed F1, F3 or F4 (but not F2 which had more taurine than F1, F3, or F4) were lower than those of infants fed BM. These results provide further evidence for the limited capacity of the preterm human infant to convert methionine to cystine, owing to delayed maturation of cystathionase, and suggest a limited capacity to convert cystine to taurine. The latter suggestion is consistent with low human hepatic cysteinesulfinic acid decarboxylase activity 0.26 (fetal) and 0.32 (adult) nmoles/mg protein/hour vs 468 in rat liver.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)348-355
Number of pages8
JournalThe Journal of pediatrics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1977
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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