The excretion of N tau-methylhistidine and creatinine was determined in a totally paralysed patient wih neither macroscopic nor microscopic detectable skeletal-muscle tissue. In this subject, it was possible for the first time to measure the basal non-skeletal-muscle-dependent excretion of N tau-methylhistidine and creatinine per 24 h and per kg of non-muscular body weight, 1.15 mumol (N tau-methylhistidine) and 35 mumol (creatinine) respectively. For the calculation of myofibrillar protein breakdown and skeletal-muscle mass on the basis of N tau-methylhistidine and creatinine excretion, the values have to be corrected for non-muscular sources. Our data show that skeletal-muscle tissue is the major contributor of N tau-methylhistidine in urine, since it contributes as much as 75% to the urinary excretion.

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