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Eur J Clin Invest. 1990 Jun;20(3):293-8.

Influence of leucine infusion on intracellular amino acids in humans.

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Department of Renal Medicine, Huddinge Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.


A continuous intravenous infusion of L-leucine (300 mumols min-1) was given to 12 healthy females over a 2 1/2 h period. Arterial plasma concentrations of amino acids and the keto acids of the branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) were measured. In six subjects muscle biopsies were taken before and at the end of the infusion for determination of intracellular (i.c.) free amino acid concentrations, and leg exchange of amino acids was measured. During infusion the plasma level of leucine rose sixfold. Approximately 40% of the infused amount was taken up by muscle. Of this, half was accumulated intracellularly, where the free leucine concentration increased from basal 190 +/- 22 to 580 +/- 110 mumols l-1 ICW (intracellular water) at the end of infusion. The concentrations of most other amino acids, above all the other BCAA and the aromatic amino acids, decreased, by 17-48% in the i.c. pool and by 17-79% in plasma. The plasma level of ketoisocaproic acid (KIC), the keto acid of leucine, increased in parallel with that of leucine. The concentration of keto valine, ketoisovaleric acid (KIV), decreased by 75%, whereas the keto acid of isoleucine, ketomethylvaleric acid (KMV), was unchanged. Leg release of alanine decreased significantly, whereas the exchange of other amino acids were unchanged. Taken together, decreased i.c. and plasma concentrations but unchanged leg exchange of tyrosine and phenylalanine suggest i.c. accumulation of protein. It can be calculated that approximately 40% of the leucine taken up by muscle was accumulated in the intracellular free pool, some 20% could have been incorporated into protein and 40% was probably oxidized.

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