1. Tritium labelled proteins, namely bovine serum albumin ([3H]BSA), rat serum albumin ([3H]RSA), anionic horseradish peroxidase ([3H]aHRP) and immunoglobulin present in urine fractions from rat filtration studies in vivo and isolated perfused rat kidneys (IPKs) have been shown by gel chromatographic analysis to be severely degraded to small peptides. The degradation of RSA and BSA in vivo has been shown to be similar.

2. Degradation of proteins in the urine from IPK experiments was inhibited by including 150 mmol/l lysine in the perfusate. Similarly, [3H]BSA and [3H]aHRP excreted from rats with puromycin aminonucleoside nephrosis was again essentially intact for both IPK and in vivo experiments.

3. It appears that the degradation of proteins observed in urine obtained from control kidneys is due, in part, to proteolytic activity associated with the proximal tubule. Inhibition of proximal tubule function, which occurs for both lysine and puromycin aminonucleoside treatments (as calibrated by lysozyme uptake), results in inhibition of the degradation observed. Glomerular epithelial cells could also contribute to the degradation.

4. There was no generation of low-molecular-weight material in the perfusate or plasma arising from breakdown of circulating proteins or recycling of potential degradation products from the tubules.

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