To investigate the effect of remote and proximate cancer on hepatic protein metabolism, we determined rates of total protein synthesis by hepatocytes (HPS) isolated from 31 patients undergoing liver wedge biopsy: 7 patients with benign disease, 14 with gastric cancer, and 10 with colorectal cancer (5 of whom had liver metastases). Patients with malignant disease without weight loss had a threefold higher rate of total HPS (4,980 +/- 814 pmol/h per 10(5) viable cells) than patients with benign disease without weight loss (1,278 +/- 318 pmol/h per 10(5) viable cells, P less than 0.001). Among the patients with gastric cancer, eight with preoperative weight loss had lower rates of HPS (380 +/- 90 pmol/h per 10(5) viable cells) than those without weight loss (4,061 +/- 401 pmol/h per 10(5) viable cells, P less than 0.002). The highest rates of HPS were seen in patients with colorectal cancer with liver metastases (8,005 +/- 1,975 pmol/h per 10(5) viable cells) vs. colorectal cancer patients without liver metastases (3,060 +/- 575 pmol/h per 10(5) viable cells, P less than 0.03). These data indicate that modulation of hepatic protein synthesis occurs in malignancy in man. However, the stimulatory influence of the tumor-bearing state may be overridden by the inhibitory effects of cachexia.
H F Starnes Jr, R S Warren, M F Brennan