1. The influence of elevated concentrations of stress hormones on the concentration of ribosomes and the relative proportion of polyribosomes, reflecting protein synthesis in vivo, in human skeletal muscle was investigated. Healthy volunteers were given a 6 h infusion of adrenaline (n = 8), Cortisol (n = 8), a triple-hormone combination of adrenaline, Cortisol and glucagon (n = 8), or saline (n = 8)

2. The total ribosome concentration declined by 30.4 ± 7.2% in the triple-hormone group (P <0.01), by 26.9 ± 8.6% in the Cortisol group (P <0.05) and by 24.8 ± 11.2% in the adrenaline group (P <0.05). The proportion of polyribosomes to total ribosomes decreased by 8.5 ± 2.2% in the triple-hormone group (P <0.05)

3. During hormone infusion the serum glucose levels were enhanced. The insulin concentrations in serum were elevated in the adrenaline group and the triple-hormone group, but not in the Cortisol group. Serum insulin decreased in the control group

4. The results indicate an effect of the combined stress hormone infusion on the total ribosome concentration as well as on the relative abundance of polyribosomes. The single hormones influenced the total ribosome concentration only. The results suggest a critical role for stress hormones in producing the decline in muscle protein synthesis seen after trauma.

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