PMID: 1263837Apr 1, 1976Paper

Muscle nitrogen metabolism in chronic hepatic insufficiency

Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental
O P Ganda, N B Ruderman


Whole blood arterio-venous (A-V) differences for ammonia (NH3) and amino acids were determined across the forearm in 14 patients with decompensated alcoholic cirrhosis and hyperammonemia. NH3 was extracted by the forearm in all patients; however, the fractional extraction of NH3 was significantly less in five individuals with gross muscle wasting (13.3% versus 25.3%). There was neither a significant uptake nor release of NH3 in normal control subjects. The arterial concentrations of 12 out of 20 amino acids were strikingly diminished in the patient group. In contrast to normal subjects, in whom the release of alanine exceeds that of glutamine, the A-V difference for glutamine in the patients was threefold greater than that for alanine. The A-V differences for all other amino acids were not significantly different from zero. The results suggest that (1) muscle plays an important role in disposing of NH3 in patients with hepatic insufficiency and (2) a major fraction of NH3 taken up by muscle is released as glutamine.


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