First published April 1, 1976 - More info
Both animal and human studies suggest that either phosphorus depletion or hypophosphatemia might have an adverse effect on muscle function and composition. Recently a possible deleterious effect was noted in patients with chronic alcoholism. In this unexplained disease, a variety of toxic and nutritional disturbances could affect the muscle cell, thus obscuring the precise role of phosphorus. Accordingly, we examined eight conditioned dogs for the possibility that phosphorus deficiency per se might induce an abnormally low resting transmembrane electrical potential difference (Em) and alter the composition of the muscle cell. Eight conditioned dogs were fed a synthetic phosphorus-deficient but otherwise nutritionally adequate diet plus aluminum carbonate gel for a 28-day period followed by the same diet with phosphorus supplementation for an additional 28 days. Sequential measurements of Em and muscle composition were made at 0 and 28 days during depletion and again after phosphorus repletion. Serum inorganic phosphorus concentration (mg/100 ml) fell from 4.2 +/- 0.6 on day 0 t0 1.7 +/- 0.1 on day 28. Total muscle phosphorus content (mmol/100 g fat-free dry wt [FFDW]) fell from 28.5 +/- 1.8 on day 0 to 22.4 +/- 2.1 on day 28. During phosphorus depletion, average Em (-mV) fell from 92.6 +/- 4.2 to 77.9 +/- 4.1 mV (P less than 0.001). Muscle Na+ and Cl- content (meq/100 g FFDW) rose respectively from 11.8 +/- 3.2 to 17.2 +/- 2.8 (P less than 0.01) and from 8.4 +/- 1.4 to 12.7 +/- 2.0 (P less than 0.001). Total muscle water content rose from 331 +/- 12 to 353 +/- 20 g/100 FFDW (P less than 0.05). A slight, but nevertheless, significant drop in muscle potassium content, 43.7 +/- 2.0-39.7 +/- 2.2 meq/100 g FFDW (P less than 0.05) was also noted. After 4 wk of phosphorus repletion, all of these measurements returned toward control values. We conclude that moderate phosphorus depletion can induce reversible changes in skeletal muscle composition and transmembrane potential in the dog, and it apparently occurs independently of profound hypophosphatemia.