Physiological roles of GAA and its relationship with arginine
The role of guanidinoacetic acid (GAA) and its relationship with arginine was reviewed in order to define a replacement ratio between GAA and arginine for broiler diet formulation, the ratio being of how much arginine could be spared, or replaced by GAA. Guanidionoacetic acid, the precursor of creatine, can be synthesized de novo from the amino acids arginine and glycine, whereby 1 mol of arginine creates 1 mol of GAA; that is a weight:weight (w:w) ratio of 1.49:1 (arginine:GAA). Guanidinoacetic acid exerts a growth effect through its primary physiological fate to form creatine, and additionally spares dietary arginine from GAA synthesis; so that it contributes to protein accretion and other functions. Creatine is critical in energy metabolism as a carrier and reservoir of phosphate for adenosine triphosphate (ATP) formation. Arginine deficiency causes reduced growth and can lead to disrupted levels of blood and muscle energy metabolites (phosphocreatine and creatine). Supplementing GAA into the diet restores these metabolites. At severe arginine deficiency, GAA addition cannot fully compensate the arginine deficit, as measured by growth performance. As arginine becomes nearer to sufficiency, the effect of GAA becomes more pronounced. When using growth rate or FCR as an indicator in broilers, a ratio in the range of 0.77 to 1.3:1 (w:w arginine:GAA) was seen, with one study noting a ratio of 2:1 when using FCR as an indicator. Higher ratios of up to 2.7:1 are achieved when using muscle creatine and phosphocreatine measurements. A recommendation of 1:1 (w:w) is proposed, which takes a conservative approach. Large scale studies with practical diets would be helpful to confirm that a ratio of 1:1 (w:w) or higher may be used in the field for broilers.