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Enriching a protein drink with leucine augments muscle protein synthesis after resistance exercise in young and older men

Philip J Atherton, Vinod Kumar, Anna L Selby, Debbie Rankin, Wulf Hildebrandt, Beth E Phillips, John P Williams, Natalie Hiscock, Kenneth Smith
Clinical Nutrition: Official Journal of the European Society of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition 2017, 36 (3): 888-895
Maximizing anabolic responses to feeding and exercise is crucial for muscle maintenance and adaptation to exercise training. We hypothesized that enriching a protein drink with leucine would improve anabolic responses to resistance exercise (RE: 6 × 8 knee-extension repetitions at 75% of 1-RM) in both young and older adults. Groups (n = 9) of young (24 ± 6 y, BMI 23 ± 2 kg m-2 ) and older men (70 ± 5 y, BMI 25 ± 2 kg m-2 ) were randomized to either: (i) RE followed by Slim-Fast Optima (SFO 10 g PRO; 24 g CHO) with 4.2 g of leucine (LEU) or, (ii) RE + SFO with 4.2 g of alanine (ALA; isonitrogenous control). Muscle biopsies were taken before, immediately after, and 1, 2 and 4 h after RE and feeding. Muscle protein synthesis (MPS) was measured by incorporation of [1, 2-13 C2 ] leucine into myofibrillar proteins and the phosphorylation of p70S6K1 by immunoblotting. In young men, both area under the curve (AUC; FSR 0-4 h P < 0.05) and peak FSR (0.11 vs. 0.08%.h.-1 ; P < 0.05) were greater in the SFO + LEU than in the SFO + ALA group, after RE. Similarly, in older men, AUC analysis revealed that post-exercise anabolic responses were greater in the SFO + LEU than SFO + ALA group, after RE (AUC; FSR 0-4 h P < 0.05). Irrespective of age, increases in p70S6K1 phosphorylation were evident in response to both SFO + LEU and SFO + ALA, although greater with leucine supplementation than alanine (fold-change 2.2 vs. 3.2; P < 0.05), specifically in the older men. We conclude that addition of Leucine to a sub-maximal PRO bolus improves anabolic responses to RE in young and older men.


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