Flux rates of amino acids were measured across the leg after an overnight fast in resting human volunteers. A balanced amino acid solution was, after a primed infusion, continuously infused for 2 h at each of three step-wise and increasing rates corresponding to 8.3, 16.7, 33.2 mg N/kg per h that were equivalent to 0.2, 0.4, 0.8 g N/kg per d. Flux of amino acids across the leg was compared with the flux of glucose, glycerol, lactate, free fatty acids, and oxygen. The size of the muscular tissue pool of amino acids was measured. Whole body amino acid oxidation was estimated by means of the continuous infusion of a 14C-labeled mixture of amino acids. Arterial steady state levels were obtained for most amino acids within 30 to 45 min after the primed constant infusion. Leg flux of amino acids switched from a net efflux after an overnight fast to a balanced flux between infusion rates corresponding to 0.2-0.4 g N/kg per d. At 0.8 g N/kg per d essentially all amino acids showed uptake. The infusion of amino acids stimulated leg uptake of glucose and lactate production and decreased FFA release. Oxygen uptake and leg blood flow increased significantly with increased infusion of amino acids. There was significant variability in transport rate among individual amino acids. Branched chain amino acids showed rapid transport and methionine slow transport rate. Only small changes in the muscle tissue concentration of certain amino acids were registered after 6 h of amino acid infusion despite uptake for several hours. When amino acids were infused at a rate corresponding to 0.8 g N/kg per d, the leg uptake of amino acids was 6% and the simultaneous whole body oxidation of infused amino acids was approximately 10%. Net uptake of leucine across the leg per hour was 62% of the muscle pool of free leucine when amino acids were infused at a rate corresponding to 0.4 g N/kg per d. Multiple regression analysis showed that the arterial concentration of an amino acid was the most important factor for uptake, more so than insulin concentration and blood flow. It is concluded that leg exchange of amino acids is large enough to rapidly change the pool size of the amino acids in skeletal muscle, if not counter-regulated by changes in rates of protein synthesis and degradation. Estimates of the capacity for protein synthesis and transfer RNA acceptor sites in muscles agree in order of magnitude with the net uptake of amino acids at high infusion rates of amino acids. Therefore, measurements of the balance of tyrosine, phenylalanine, and particularly methionine at steady state may reflect net balance of proteins across skeletal muscles even in short-time experiments.


K Lundholm, K Bennegård, H Zachrisson, F Lundgren, E Edén, A C Möller-Loswick


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