Oral administration of amino acidic supplements improves protein and energy profiles in skeletal muscle of aged rats: elongation of functional performance and acceleration of mitochondrial recovery in adenosine triphosphate after exhaustive exertion

Am J Cardiol. 2008 Jun 2;101(11A):42E-48E. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2008.02.080.


Sarcopenia is an inevitable age-related degenerative process chiefly characterized by decreased synthesis of muscle proteins and impaired mitochondrial function, leading to progressive loss of muscle mass. Here, we sought to probe whether long-term administration of oral amino acids (AAs) can increase protein and adenosine triphosphate (ATP) content in the gastrocnemius muscle of aged rats, enhancing functional performance. To this end, 6- and 24-month-old male Fisher 344 rats were divided into 3 groups: group A (6-month-old rats) and group B (24-month-old rats) were used as adult and senescent control group, respectively, while group C (24-month-old rats) was used as senescent treated group and underwent 1-month oral treatment with a mixture of mainly essential AAs. Untreated senescent animals exhibited a 30% reduction in total and fractional protein content, as well as a 50% reduction in ATP content and production, compared with adult control rats (p <0.001). Long-term supplementation with mixed AAs significantly improved protein and high-energy phosphate content, as well as the rate of mitochondrial ATP production, conforming their values to those of adult control animals (p <0.001). The improved availability of protein and high-energy substrates in the gastrocnemius muscle of treated aged rats paralleled a significant enhancement in functional performance assessed by swim test, with dramatic elongation of maximal exertion times compared with untreated senescent rats (p <0.001). In line with these findings, we observed that, after 6 hours of rest following exhaustive swimming, the recovery in mitochondrial ATP content was approximately 70% in adult control rats, approximately 60% in senescent control rats, and normalized in treated rats as compared with animals of the same age unexposed to maximal exertion (p <0.001). In conclusion, nutritional supplementation with oral AAs improved protein and energy profiles in the gastrocnemius of treated rats, enhancing functional performance and accelerating high-energy phosphate recovery after exhaustive exertion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Administration, Oral
  • Aging / pathology
  • Aging / physiology
  • Animals
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Male
  • Mitochondria, Muscle / metabolism
  • Muscle Proteins / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred F344


  • Muscle Proteins
  • Adenosine Triphosphate