Roles of amino acids in preventing and treating intestinal diseases: recent studies with pig models.
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Animal models are needed to study and understand a human complex disease. Because of their similarities in anatomy, structure, physiology, and pathophysiology, the pig has proven its usefulness in studying human gastrointestinal diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, ischemia/reperfusion injury, diarrhea, and cancer. To understand the pathogenesis of these diseases, a number of experimental models generated in pigs are available, for example, through surgical manipulation, chemical induction, microbial infection, and genetic engineering. Our interests have been using amino acids as therapeutics in pig and human disease models. Amino acids not only play an important role in protein biosynthesis, but also exert significant physiological effects in regulating immunity, anti-oxidation, redox regulation, energy metabolism, signal transduction, and animal behavior. Recent studies in pigs have shown that specific dietary amino acids can improve intestinal integrity and function under normal and pathological conditions that protect the host from different diseases. In this review, we summarize several pig models in intestinal diseases and how amino acids can be used as therapeutics in treating pig and human diseases.