1. Impaired body growth, loss of lean body mass and negative nitrogen balance are common findings in chronic renal failure. Enhanced endogenous protein catabolism in skeletal muscle induced by co-existent metabolic acidosis seems to be an important aetio-logical factor.
2. In uraemic patients abnormalities in blood amino acid profiles are present after a protein meal, suggesting impaired metabolism of ingested proteins.
3. This study demonstrates that acidosis induces changes in arterial amino acid profiles in fed non-uraemk rats. These included increased levels of threonine, histidine, proline, serine and glycine, and decreased levels of tryptophan. These changes are similar to those found in uraemic patients after a protein meal, suggesting a pathogenic role of acidosis in the impairment of exogenous protein metabolism.
4. Intracellular amino acid levels in the muscle tissue partly reflect the changes in the extracellular level.
5. Acidotic animals had a decreased body weight gain and a reduced alkali-soluble protein/DNA ratio in muscle cells compared with controls.
6. In conclusion, the results show that acidosis per se modifies the circulating amino acid profile in fed rats, resulting in a pattern similar to the post-prandial amino acid changes described in uraemic patients. These abnormalities occur together with impaired growth of skeletal muscle cells.