Measures of perfusion adequacy in perfused rat hemicorpus preparations were investigated as potential indices of tissue function during studies of muscle protein metabolism. Perfusion under normal conditions for up to 80 min resulted in rates of protein synthesis and concentrations of ATP in muscle that were similar to those in vivo, but phosphocreatine in muscle gradually decreased and muscle lactate increased. Hypoxic conditions led to lower rates of protein synthesis, lower phospho-creatine and raised lactate contents in muscle compared with normal perfusions, and ATP was slightly decreased. Hypoxic preparations also released more lactate and K+ into the medium and had higher perfusion pressures, but glucose uptake and muscle water content were not altered. In totally ischaemic muscle, concentrations of ATP and phosphocreatine were even lower than in hypoxic muscle, and that of lactate was higher. From 11 preparations perfused for 60 min under normal conditions, three were selected on the basis of lower muscle ATP content than the others. Preparations with low ATP also showed lower muscle phosphocreatine concentrations, O2 uptake and CO2 output, as well as higher perfusion pressure and muscle lactate concentrations than in the remaining preparations, but muscle water, ADP and AMP concentrations and lactate and K+ flux were no different. In perfusions extended to 3 h, deterioration of function was more apparent. There were significant correlations between rates of protein synthesis and the concentrations of ATP, phosphocreatine and lactate in two different muscles (r = 0.756-0.929), but not with any of the other indices investigated. Taken overall, these experiments showed that concentrations of ADP, AMP and water in muscle, rates of lactate and glucose metabolism, K+ output, perfusion pressure and blood gas parameters were unsuitable for distinguishing unsound from sound preparations, because they did not consistently demonstrate differences, or could not be ascribed to only muscle metabolism. It was found that ATP, phosphocreatine and lactate concentrations in muscle were the best indicators of impaired metabolic state in studies of protein synthesis. Measurements of these could be used on a routine basis for rejecting unsatisfactory preparations.

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