Endocrinology and Metabolism

Plasma ammonia and liver ornithine transcarbamoylase activity in zinc-deficient rats.

P Rabbani, A S Prasad


The effects of zinc deficiency on the activity of hepatic ornithine carbamoyltransferase (OCT) and plasma ammonia were studied in rats. One group received (ad libitum) zinc-deficient diet containing 2 ppm zinc and the other group received a diet containing 110 ppm zinc (group pair-fed control) equal to the amount consumed by zinc-deficient rats during the previous 24 h. Rats were killed at weekly intervals. Blood urea nitrogen (BUN), plasma ammonia, and hepatic OCT activity were determined. By end of the 1st wk on zinc-deficient diet, the plasma ammonia levels became significantly higher than those of the controls and remained elevated thoughout the study period. BUN increased initially for 2 wk in the deficient rats, but by the end of 4 wk the levels were lower than in the controls. The hepatic OCT activity in deficient animals was significantly lowered as compared to the controls by the 3rd wk. It is concluded that an increase in plasma ammonia may occur as a result of deficiency of zinc.