Rates of protein synthesis were measured in vivo in several tissues (heart, skeletal muscles, liver, tibia, skin, brain, kidney, lung) of fed rats exposed to O2/N2 (1:9) for 6 h starting at 08:00-11:00 h. Protein synthesis rates were depressed by 15-35% compared with normoxic controls in all of the tissues studied. The decreases were greatest in the brain and the skin. Although hypoxia inhibited gastric emptying, its effects on protein synthesis could probably not be attributed to its induction of a starved state, because protein-synthesis rates in brain and skin were not decreased by a 15-18 h period of starvation initiated at 23:00 h. Furthermore, we showed that protein synthesis was inhibited by hypoxia in the rat heart perfused in vitro, suggesting a direct effect. The role of hypoxia in perturbing tissue nitrogen balance in various physiological and pathological states is discussed.

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