The loss of muscle mass with aging has been, at least partly, attributed to a blunted muscle protein synthetic response to food intake. Leucine coingestion has been reported to stimulate postprandial insulin release and augment postprandial muscle protein accretion. We assessed the clinical benefits of 6 mo of leucine supplementation in elderly, type 2 diabetes patients. Sixty elderly males with type 2 diabetes (age, 71 ± 1 y; BMI, 27.3 ± 0.4 kg/m(2)) were administered 2.5 g L-leucine (n = 30) or a placebo (n = 30) with each main meal during 6 mo of nutritional intervention (7.5 g/d leucine or placebo). Body composition, muscle fiber characteristics, muscle strength, glucose homeostasis, and basal plasma amino acid and lipid concentrations were assessed prior to, during, and after intervention. Lean tissue mass did not change or differ between groups and at 0, 3, and 6 mo were 61.9 ± 1.1, 62.2 ± 1.1, and 62.0 ± 1.0 kg, respectively, in the leucine group and 62.2 ± 1.3, 62.2 ± 1.3, and 62.2 ± 1.3 kg in the placebo group. There also were no changes in body fat percentage, muscle strength, and muscle fiber type characteristics. Blood glycosylated hemoglobin did not change or differ between groups and was 7.1 ± 0.1% in the leucine group and 7.2 ± 0.2% in the placebo group. Consistent with this, oral glucose insulin sensitivity and plasma lipid concentrations did not change or differ between groups. We conclude that prolonged leucine supplementation (7.5 g/d) does not modulate body composition, muscle mass, strength, glycemic control, and/or lipidemia in elderly, type 2 diabetes patients who habitually consume adequate dietary protein.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00643773.