Six groups of 5 male rats (starting body weight 109 g) were allowed free access to a conventional rat diet. At 4 hourly intervals, starting at 10.00 h muscle protein synthesis was measured. By relating the weights of the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles to the initial body weights of the animals (i.e., at 09.30, day 1), a linear increase in muscle weight throughout the day was demonstrated. The fractional rate of muscle protein synthesis varied from 16.8% per day to 20.3% per day in gastrocnemius muscle and from 17.9% per day and 22.1% per day in the soleus. It was calculated that the maximum error incurred in estimating daily muscle protein synthesis by extrapolation of the value at any one time was 6% in gastrocnemius and 9% in soleus. It is concluded that calculations of the average rate of muscle protein degradation based on the difference between the rates of synthesis and deposition are generally valid in rats allowed free access to an adequate diet.

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