We measured the effects of seven consecutive daily infusions of alpha-ketoisocaproate (the alpha-keto analogue of leucine) or leucine itself on urinary urea and total nitrogen excretion during fasting. Two study protocols were undertaken. In protocol I, subjects underwent three separate 14-d fasts: one during which 34 mmol/d of leucine were infused on days 1--7; a second during which 34 mmol/d of alpha-ketoisocaproate were infused on days 1--7; and a third control fast during which no infusions were given. Infusions of alpha-ketoisocaproate significantly reduced daily urine urea nitrogen excretion compared with both the control fasts and the fasts in which leucine was infused (P less than 0.001). This nitrogen-sparing effect of alpha-ketoisocaproate persisted during days 8--14 even though no further infusions were given. Daily urinary urea nitrogen excretion during fasts when leucine was administered did not differ from values observed during control fasts. In protocol II, subjects were starved on two occasions for 14 d. During one fast, infusions of 11 mmol/d of alpha-ketoisocaproate were given on days 1--7; during the control fast, no infusions were given. Daily urine urea nitrogen excretion was lower (P less than 0.001) on days 1--7 and also on days 8--14 of the fast during which alpha-ketoisocaproate was given. The nitrogen-sparing effect of alpha-ketoisocaproate could not be related to changes in circulating levels of amino acids, ketone bodies, or insulin in either protocol. We conclude that alpha-ketoisocaproate infusions decrease the nitrogen wasting of starvation, whereas leucine, studied under identical conditions, does not.
W E Mitch, M Walser, D G Sapir
Guidelines: The Editorial Board will only consider letters that we deem relevant and of interest to our readers. We will not post data that have not been subjected to peer review, nor will we post letters that are essentially a reiteration of another letter. We reserve the right to edit any letter for length, content, and clarity. Authors will be notified by e-mail if their letters were accepted. No appeals will be considered.
Specific requirements: All letters must be 400 words or fewer. You may enter the letter as plain text or HTML. The author's name and e-mail address are required, and will be posted with the letter. All possible conflicts of interest must be noted, even if they are not posted. If you wish to include a figure (keep in mind that non-peer-reviewed data will not be posted), please contact the editors directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.