We used the perfused hemicorpus preparation to measure individual rates of protein synthesis and degradation. Using fed animals, perfused either with or without insulin, muscle protein synthesis and hemicorpus protein degradation rates were similar, but myofibrillar protein degradation was clearly increased in the uremic preparations. When the animals were fasted, differences in the rates of skeletal muscle protein turnover were apparent. Uremic rats lost more wt at both 24 and 48 hr of fasting when compared to either ad libidum fed or pair-fed controls who started fasting at body wts equivalent to our uremic rats. The accelerated wt loss was accompanied by lower rates of protein synthesis, higher degradation rates, and greater net protein catabolism in our uremic rats. Alterations in body lipid content were present in uremia and correlated with the rate of protein degradation in both control and uremic rats. These data demonstrated that even in the fed state, uremia is associated with subtle alterations in skeletal muscle protein turnover. When stressed, these alterations become more pronounced. Insufficient stores of body lipids, either due to inadequate nutrition or altered metabolism, may contribute to the alterations in muscle protein turnover seen in chronic renal insuffiency.
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