Quantification of melamine absorption, distribution to tissues, and excretion by sheep
Eight Döhne Merino rams were used to quantify apparent absorption, distribution to tissues, and excretion of dietary melamine in sheep. Two batches of concentrate pellets were made; one (CON) contained corn gluten meal with no detectable melamine and the other (MEL) contained corn gluten meal that was previously found to be highly contaminated with melamine at 15,117 mg/kg. The MEL pellets contained 1,149 mg/kg of melamine. During a 10-d adaptation period, all the animals received a forage-based diet supplemented with 600 g/d of the CON pellets. This was followed by an 8-d collection period during which 6 of the animals received MEL pellets and 2 received CON pellets. Melamine intake of sheep that received MEL pellets was 0.69 g/d. Blood samples were taken before first ingestion of MEL pellets on d 1 and again on d 3, 6, and 8 of the collection period for melamine and serum creatinine analyses. Feces and urine were collected quantitatively over the 8 d for proximate and melamine analyses. All the animals were slaughtered at the end of the trial, and samples of the LM, liver, kidneys, and abdominal fat were taken for melamine analysis. Data of the 2 sheep that received CON pellets for the duration of the trial confirmed that no melamine was detected in any of the samples, and no statistical analyses were performed on these data. The apparent digestibility or efficiency of absorption of ingested melamine was 76.7%. Melamine was detected in the urine, blood, muscle (LM), and fat tissue of all the sheep that received MEL pellets. Serum melamine concentrations reached 5.4 mg/kg on d 8 of the collection period, and the meat (LM) contained 9.6 mg/kg of melamine. Calculations on the partitioning of ingested melamine suggested that urine is the major excretion route accounting for 53.2%, whereas feces accounted for 23.3% of ingested melamine. Approximately 3.5% of the ingested melamine was detected in muscle. It was concluded that ingested melamine is highly absorbable from the small intestine and that a pathway exists for the distribution of dietary melamine to meat. © 2011 American Society of Animal Science. All rights reserved.