High-Moisture Extrusion of a Dietary Protein Blend Impairs In Vitro Digestion and Delays In Vivo Postprandial Plasma Amino Acid Availability in Humans

Sam West, Alistair J. Monteyne, Gráinne Whelehan, Doaa R. Abdelrahman, Andrew J. Murton, Tim JA Finnigan, Giuseppina Mandalari, Catherine Booth, Peter J. Wilde, Francis B. Stephens, Benjamin T. Wall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Industrial processing can alter the structural complexity of dietary proteins and, potentially, their digestion and absorption upon ingestion. High-moisture extrusion (HME), a common processing method used to produce meat alternative products, affects in vitro digestion, but human data are lacking. We hypothesized that HME of a mycoprotein/pea protein blend would impair in vitro digestion and in vivo postprandial plasma amino acid availability. Methods: In Study A, 9 healthy volunteers completed 2 experimental trials in a randomized, double-blind, crossover design. Participants consumed a beverage containing 25 g protein from a “dry” blend (CON) of mycoprotein/pea protein (39%/61%) or an HME content-matched blend (EXT). Arterialized venous blood samples were collected in the postabsorptive state and regularly over a 5-h postprandial period to assess plasma amino acid concentrations. In Study B, in vitro digestibility of the 2 beverages were assessed using bicinchoninic acid assay and optical fluorescence microscopy at baseline and during and following gastric and intestinal digestion using the INFOGEST model of digestion. Results: Protein ingestion increased plasma total, essential (EAA), and branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) concentrations (time effect, P < 0.0001) but more rapidly and to a greater magnitude in the CON compared with the EXT condition (condition × time interaction, P < 0.0001). This resulted in greater plasma availability of EAA and BCAA concentrations during the early postprandial period (0–150 min). These data were corroborated by the in vitro approach, which showed greater protein availability in the CON (2150 ± 129 mg/mL) compared with the EXT (590 ± 41 mg/mL) condition during the gastric phase. Fluorescence microscopy revealed clear structural differences between the 2 conditions. Conclusions: These data demonstrate that HME delays in vivo plasma amino acid availability following ingestion of a mycoprotein/pea protein blend. This is likely due to impaired gastric phase digestion as a result of HME-induced aggregate formation in the pea protein. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT05584358.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2053-2064
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2024


  • amino acids
  • bioavailability
  • digestion
  • extrusion
  • mycoprotein
  • pea protein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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