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Keywords:

  • Arginine;
  • growth performance;
  • protein optimization;
  • innate immunity;
  • channel catfish

Abstract

Juvenile channel catfish Ictalurus punctatus were fed casein–gelatin-based semi-purified test diets with graded amounts of arginine (ARG, 0.5%, 1%, 2% and 4% of dry diet) for a 6-week period, to evaluate the effects of dietary ARG supplementation on performance indicators, levels of plasma ARG, ornithine, citrulline, glutamine and glutamate, as well as selected innate immune parameters. Incremental dietary ARG resulted in significant improvements in weight gain, feed efficiency and protein efficiency ratios, protein retention, protein deposition and arginine deposition. Fish fed the 4% ARG diet had significantly higher values for all performance indicators, although these values were not different from those of fish fed the 2% ARG diet with the exception of protein retention, protein deposition and arginine deposition. Conversely, fish fed the 0.5% ARG diet had significantly lower values for all analysed plasma amino acids. Similarly, both phagocyte superoxide anion production and neutrophil respiratory burst were significantly decreased in fish fed the 0.5% ARG diet. These results demonstrate that the indispensability of dietary ARG is not only related to optimized protein utilization for growth but also its supplementation to fish diets may significantly impact several aspects of the immune system, including phagocyte function and thus improve overall fish health.