British Journal of Nutrition

Human and Clinical Nutrition

Urea kinetics in healthy young women: minimal effect of stage of menstrual cycle, contraceptivepill and protein intake

Irene S. M. McClellanda1 and Alan A. Jacksona1*

a1 Department of Human Nutrition, University of Southampton, Bassett Crescent East, Southampton SO16 7PX


Urea kinetics were measured using prime/lintermittent oral doses of [15N15N]urea, on five separate protocols in thirteen normal young women. Each woman underwent either two or three study protocols.Measurements were made at day 12 and day 22 of the menstrual cycle, whilst consuming their habitual protein intake in seven women not taking the contraceptive pill and in six women taking the contraceptive pill. In three woman taking the pill, and three not taking the pill, urea kinetics were measured whilst taking a diet in which the intakewas restricted to 55 g protein/d. There was no difference in the rate of urea production, urea excretion or urea hydrolysis between the women taking the pill and those not taking the pill at day 22. In the women not taking the pill there was no difference in any measure between day 12 and day 22. In the women taking the pill there was a significant difference in the disposal of urea N to excretion or hydrolysis on day 12 compared with day 22, with a relative decrease in excretion and enhancement of hydrolysis at day 12 compared with day 22. On the restricted diet, an intake of 55 g protein/d represented 77% of the habitual intake and urea production, excretion and hydrolysis were reduced to about 84% of the rate found on the habitual intake. In paired studies the reduction in urea production was statistically significant, and there was a statistically significant linear relationship between urea production and either intake or the sum of intake plus hydrolysis. The within-individual variability for urea production was about 10% for excretion 15% and for hydrolysis 44% The between-individual variability for intake was about 17% on the habitual intake. The variability for production, excretion and hydrolysis (14, 13, 36%) was less in the women not taking the contraceptive pill than in those taking the pill (23,32,42% respectively). The variability was reduced on the controlled low intake of 55 g protein compared with the habitual intake.These results confirm the wide variability in aspects of urea kinetics between individuals. In women this variability is not, to any large extent, accounted for by changes associated with themenstrual cycle

(Received May 12 1995)

(Revised November 24 1995)

(Accepted December 01 1995)


* For reprients.