1. Rates of appearance and oxidation of plasma L-leucine, L-phenylalanine and L-tyrosine, as well as conversion of plasma phenylalanine into plasma tyrosine, were determined in 90-120 g rats after overnight starvation and while receiving 115-120 mumol of L-phenylalanine/h. 2. In the post-absorptive state, plasma tyrosine and phenylalanine appearances were similar, despite the fact that 22% of plasma tyrosine appearance could be attributed to the hydroxylation of phenylalanine. 3. A constant infusion of 115-120 mumol of L-phenylalanine/h did not significantly alter plasma leucine kinetics, but increased appearance of plasma phenylalanine and tyrosine. The percentage of phenylalanine and tyrosine appearance that was oxidized increased from 12.1% and 24.4% to 37.3% and 48.0% respectively. In phenylalanine-loaded rats, 72% of plasma tyrosine appearance could be attributed to the conversion of phenylalanine. 4. Whole-body tyrosine oxidation measured from a continuous infusion of either L-[14C]tyrosine or L-[14C]phenylalanine differed by 165%. 5. It can be concluded that, in the post-absorptive state, phenylalanine hydroxylation makes a substantial contribution to the plasma appearance of tyrosine and is significantly increased when phenylalanine is administered. The disposal of excess infused phenylalanine is a result of a greater percentage of plasma phenylalanine being converted into tyrosine and a greater proportion of tyrosine being further oxidized. However, apparent tyrosine oxidation rates estimated from plasma tyrosine specific radioactivities and appearance of expired 14CO2 during administration of [14C]tyrosine are underestimates of true rates, in part because tyrosine generated from phenylalanine hydroxylation is catabolized without freely equilibrating with the plasma compartment.

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