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Propionate absorbed from the colon acts as gluconeogenic substrate in a strict carnivore, the domestic cat (Felis catus)


A. Verbrugghe, Laboratory of Animal Nutrition, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, Heidestraat 19, B-9820 Merelbeke, Belgium. Tel: +32 9 264 78 22; Fax: +32 9 264 78 48; E-mail:


In six normal-weight and six obese cats, the metabolic effect of propionate absorbed from the colon was assessed. Two colonic infusions were tested in a crossover design with intervals of 4 weeks. The test solution contained 4 mmol sodium propionate per kg ideal body weight in a 0.2% NaCl solution. Normal saline was given as control solution. Solutions were infused into the hindgut over 30 min. Blood samples were obtained prior to and at various time points after starting the infusion. As body condition did not affect evaluated parameters, all data were pooled. Plasma glucose concentrations showed differences neither over time nor during or after infusion with propionate or control. Plasma amino acid concentrations rose over time (p < 0.001), but were similar for both infusions. Plasma propionylcarnitine rose markedly towards the end of the propionate infusion and decreased afterwards (p < 0.001), whereas 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutarylcarnitine was lower 30 (p = 0.005) and 60 min (p = 0.032) after ending propionate infusions and acetylcarnitine tended to fall at the same time points (p = 0.079; p = 0.080), suggesting inhibition of gluconeogenesis from pyruvate and amino acids, but initiation of propionate-induced gluconeogenesis. In conclusion, propionate absorbed from the colon is hypothesized to act as gluconeogenic substrate, regardless of the cat’s body condition.