Review: Regulation of gastrointestinal and renal transport of calcium and phosphorus in ruminants
In comparison to monogastric animals, ruminants show some peculiarities in respect to the regulation of mineral homeostasis, which can be regarded as a concerted interplay between gastrointestinal absorption, renal excretion and bone mobilisation to maintain physiological Ca and phosphate (Pi) concentrations in serum. Intestinal absorption of Ca or Pi is mediated by two general mechanisms: paracellular, passive transport dominates when luminal Ca or Pi concentrations are high and transcellular. The contribution of active transport becomes more important when dietary Ca or Pi supply is restricted or the demand increased. Both pathways are modulated directly by dietary interventions, influenced by age and regulated by endocrine factors such as 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3. Similar transport processes are observed in the kidney. After filtration, Ca and Pi are resorbed along the nephron. However, as urinary Ca and Pi excretion is very low in ruminants, the regulation of these renal pathways differs from that described for monogastric species, too. Furthermore, salivary secretion, as part of endogenous Pi recycling, and bone mobilisation participate in the maintenance of Ca and Pi homeostasis in ruminants. Saliva contains large amounts of Pi for buffering rumen pH and to ensure optimal conditions for the rumen microbiome. The skeleton is a major reservoir of Ca and Pi to compensate for discrepancies between demand and uptake. But alterations of the regulation of mineral homeostasis induced by other dietary factors such as a low protein diet were observed in growing ruminants. In addition, metabolic changes, for example, at the onset of lactation have pronounced effects on gastrointestinal mineral transport processes in some ruminant species. As disturbances of mineral homeostasis do not only increase the risk of the animals to develop other diseases, but are also associated with protein and energy metabolism, further research is needed to improve our knowledge of its complex regulation.