Nucleotides participate in nearly all biochemical processes important for growth: ATP is an universal energy currency in all biological systems particularly abundant in muscles.

Adenine nucleotides are components of three major coenzymes, NAD+, FAD, and CoA. Being building blocks of the nucleic acids (DNA and RNA), nucleotides are particularly required for actively proliferating cells of immune system or intestinal epithelium.

Nucleotides
Cellular function
Biological role
ATP
Actine-myosin interaction
Muscle contraction
NTP
RNA synthesis (translation)
Protein synthesis
dNTP
DNA synthesis (replication)
Proliferation
NAD, FAD
Redox reactions
Metabolism
Coenzyme A
Krebs cycle
Fatty acids metabolism
UDP-glucose
Neoglycogenesis
Liver functions, muscle growth

Since nucleotides can be synthesized de novo and recycled through salvage pathways, they are considered as semi-essential nutrients.

However, rapidly growing tissues or rapidly dividing immune cells during infection have higher requirements cells for nucleotides that can not be met only through de novo synthesis. In these cases nucleotides become “essential” nutriments that can be provided with aliments and assimilated through shorter salvage pathway (2 steps) compared to de novo synthesis (9 steps for purines).

It has been shown that the supplementation of feed with dietary nucleotides :
– boosts immune system, enhances immunity and resistance to bacterial infections;
– accelerates intestinal recovery after diarrhoea or food deprivation;
– improves growth rate.

Sources of dietary nucleotides

1) Since animal muscle is naturally rich in ATP, meat (pork, beef, chicken), fish and shrimps are excellent sources of purine nucleotides;
2) Baker yeasts are naturally rich in RNA and yeast extracts are excellent sources of both purine and pyrimidine nucleotides.