Background & aim: Protein-energy supplementation is routinely employed to combat muscle loss. However, success is often compromised by increased satiety, poor palatability, high costs and low compliance.
Methods: For 2-weeks we supplemented meals of older individuals with leucine (4 g/meal; 3 meals/day; days 2-14). Metabolic studies were performed prior to (Day 1) and following (Day 15) supplementation. Leucine was not provided on metabolic study days. Venous blood and vastus lateralis muscle biopsies were obtained during a primed constant infusion of L-[ring-(13)C(6)] phenylalanine. Mixed muscle fractional synthesis rate (FSR), body composition and markers of nutrient signaling (mTOR, 4E-BP1 and p70S6K1 phosphorylation) were measured before and after a low protein/carbohydrate simulated meal.
Results: The meal modestly increased FSR on Day 1 (postabsorptive: 0.063 ± 0.004 vs. postprandial: 0.075 ± 0.006%/h; p = 0.03), however, two weeks of leucine supplementation increased postabsorptive FSR (p = 0.004) and the response to the meal (p = 0.01) (postabsorptive: 0.074 ± 0.007 vs. postprandial: 0.10 ± 0.007%/h). Changes in FSR were mirrored by increased phosphorylation of mTOR, 4E-BP1 and p70S6K1 (p ≤ 0.1). No change in fat free mass was observed (p > 0.05).
Conclusions: In older adults, leucine supplementation may improve muscle protein synthesis in response to lower protein meals.
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