1. The influence of dietary meat and meat stock intake on urinary excretion of 3-methylhistidine (3MH) was examined in human adults.
2. In the absence of 3MH ingestion for 48 h, the study subjects adjusted to an intrinsic urinary 3MH: creatinine value. If the meat and meat stock-free diet was maintained on subsequent days, only minute diurnal variations occurred, and the values of random urine samples during the day were representative of the 24 h 3MH: creatinine value.
3. The mean 3MH: creatinine value (SD) for a group of adults (n 7) was 0·105 ± 0·023 (μmol of 3MH/mg creatinine), which is approximately 35% lower than the corresponding value in healthy growing infants (0·148 ± 0·039) (Seashore et al. 1981).
4. Ingestion of meat soup and meat causes different patterns of urinary excretion of 3MH which are consistent with the finding that meat extracts, such as soup and stock, contain considerable amounts of 3MH. The 3MH contents of beef, chicken and turkey were 3·8 ± 0·15, 3·0 ± 0·09 and 2·3 ± 0·29 μmol/g dry wt meat respectively. All three meats contained a water-soluble 3MH-fraction (% total 3MH: beef 8, chicken 21, turkey 23). Amino acid analysis of the soluble fraction with or without hydrochloric acid hydrolysis demonstrated free 3MH in chicken and turkey (5·2 and 2·8% of the total respectively) but not in beef.
5. Patients undergoing urinary 3MH measurements should maintain a diet that is free not only of solid meats, but also of meat stock. The ingestion of commercial food products (e.g. frozen or canned meals, sauces, pizza, etc.) may impair the validity of such measurements because of their meat-stock content.
6. A dietary regimen is presented which is based on a shorter 12 h urine collection. The shorter collection time is satisfactory in the light of the steady rate of 3MH-excretion after 2 d of a diet free of meat and meat stock.