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Data from Reeds PJ, Fjeld CR, Jahoor F. Do the differences between the amino acid composition of acute-phase and muscle proteins have a bearing on nitrogen loss in traumatic states? J Nutr 1994; 124: 1754S-1764S

Data from Reeds PJ, Fjeld CR, Jahoor F. Do the differences between the amino acid composition of acute-phase and muscle proteins have a bearing on nitrogen loss in traumatic states? J Nutr 1994; 124: 1754S-1764S

amino acids to the production of acute phase proteins.

In other disorders such as injuries or burns, there may be more severe direct losses of nitrogen and altered adaptation. Energy balance is critical for nitrogen balance because of its nitrogen-sparing effect. Thus, if protein deficiency is accompanied by energy deficiency, the adaptation to a low protein intake cannot be achieved completely.

The process of adaptation is clearly dependent on prior nutritional status and overall protein deficits or reserves. It is estimated that the body of a human adult (65 kg) contains 12 kg of protein, about 50% of which is found in muscles. The well-fed human adult can lose about 3 kg of protein without disturbances to his or her health. The amount of body protein depends on, among other things, the dietary protein and carbohydrate intake; if carbohydrate is lacking, the amino acids are utilized for gluconeogenesis.

Protein reserves are not comparable to special fat depots, and not all body proteins can serve as protein reserve. Reserves are primarily organs that contain labile body protein such as liver, plasma (with protein such as albumin and enzymes), and the gastrointestinal tract. Although the protein turnover rate in muscle is very slow, this tissue is a very important protein reserve owing to its large mass. In general, however, during protein deficiency the labile body proteins are metabolized first, sparing the reserves. However, when deficiency is long term, all organs are affected to various extents. Table 2 indicates the rates of loss of protein from various organs and tissues in rats on a protein-deficient diet. Table 3 shows

Table 2 Relative losses of protein in different organs and tissues from rats over 7 days

Organs or tissues

Loss (percentage

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