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Adaptation of the rat to a low-protein diet: the effect of a reduced protein intake on the pattern of incorporation of L-[14C]lysine

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 March 2007

J. C Waterlow
Medical Research Council Tropical Metabolism Research Unit, St Mary's Hospital, London, W2
Joan M. L. Stephen
Medical Research Council Tropical Metabolism Research Unit, St Mary's Hospital, London, W2
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1. Rats were chronically depleted of protein by being kept on a 6% casein diet for 5–8 weeks. Control rats were fed on a normal diet. Both groups were injected intraperitoneally with L-[U-14C]lysine. Some rats from each group were then put on a protein-free diet to produce acute depletion. The animals were killed 3 days after the injection. 2. The organs and tissues were analysed for total nitrogen and radioactivity. Free lysine, total amino N and specific activity of free lysine were measured in muscle, liver and serum. The total muscle mass of the animals was determined. Samples of muscle and skin were fractionated and the sp. ac. of the fractions was measured. 3. The main loss of N in acute depletion was found in the viscera and carcass residue; the percentage of total body N contributed by muscle was increased in protein-depleted rats. 4. The depleted rats retained relatively more radioactivity in the internal organs and less in the carcass than normal rats. 5. The ratio of the sp. ac. in protein-bound lysine to the sp. ac. of free lysine showed that protein synthesis was reduced in the muscle of the protein-depleted rats, although there was no decrease in the amount or sp. ac. of free lysine even in severe depletion. 6. Sarcoplasmic and fibrillar proteins of muscle were equally affected by protein depletion, but there was some indication of a preferential decrease in protein synthesis in one of the skin fractions. 7. The results for muscle protein are compared with those given in the literature for liver proteins. It is suggested that the rat adapts to a low-protein intake by an alteration in the pattern of protein synthesis.

Research Article
Copyright © The Nutrition Society 1966



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