The growth of offspring is affected not only by the protein in maternal milk but also by the free amino acids (FAAs) contained in it. L-Serine (L-Ser) is known as an important FAA for the development of the central nervous system and behavioral activity. However, it is not clear whether L-Ser is transported into the pool of FAAs contained in milk and thereby affects the growth of offspring. Using mice, the current study investigated the effects of dietary L-Ser during pregnancy and lactation on milk and plasma FAA composition, as well as on growth, behavior, and plasma FAAs of offspring. Dietary L-Ser did not significantly affect the maternal, anxiety-like, or cognitive behaviors of either the dam or the offspring. The FAA composition notably differed between plasma and milk in dams. In milk, dietary L-Ser increased free L-Ser levels, while glutamic acid, L-alanine, D-alanine and taurine levels were decreased. The body weight of the offspring was lowered by dietary L-Ser. The concentrations of plasma FAAs in 13-day-old offspring (fed only milk) were not altered, but 20-day-old offspring (fed both milk and parental diet) showed higher plasma L-Ser and D-Ser concentrations as a result of the dietary L-Ser treatment. In conclusion, the present study found that dietary L-Ser transported easily from maternal plasma to milk and that dietary L-Ser treatment could change the FAA composition of milk, but that an enhanced level of L-Ser in milk did not enhance the plasma L-Ser level in the offspring.
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