Effect of beta-alanine and carnosine supplementation on muscle contractility in mice

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2013 Jan;45(1):43-51. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31826cdb68.


Purpose: Enhanced carnosine levels have been shown to be ergogenic for high-intensity exercise performances, although the role of carnosine in the control of muscle function is poorly understood. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the effect of long-term supplementation with increasing doses of carnosine and beta-alanine on muscle carnosine, anserine, and taurine levels and on in vitro contractility and fatigue in mice.

Methods: Male Naval Medical Research Institute mice (n = 66) were control fed or supplemented with either carnosine (0.1%, 0.5%, or 1.8%) or beta-alanine (0.6 or 1.2%) in their drinking water for 8-12 wk. Soleus and extensor digitorum longus (EDL) were tested for in vitro contractile properties, and carnosine, anserine, and taurine content were measured in EDL and tibialis anterior by high-performance liquid chromatography.

Results: Only supplementation with 1.8% carnosine and 1.2% beta-alanine resulted in markedly higher carnosine (up to +160%) and anserine levels (up to +46%) compared with control mice. Beta-alanine supplementation (1.2%) resulted in increased fatigue resistance in the beginning of the fatigue protocol in soleus (+2%-4%) and a marked leftward shift of the force-frequency relation in EDL (10%-31% higher relative forces).

Conclusion: Comparable with humans, beta-alanine availability seems to be the rate-limiting step for synthesis of muscle histidine-containing dipeptides in mice. Moreover, muscle histidine-containing dipeptides loading in mice moderately and muscle dependently affects excitation-contraction coupling and fatigue.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anserine / metabolism
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Carnosine / administration & dosage
  • Carnosine / metabolism
  • Carnosine / pharmacology*
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Muscle Contraction / drug effects*
  • Muscle Fatigue / drug effects*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances / pharmacology*
  • Taurine / metabolism
  • beta-Alanine / administration & dosage
  • beta-Alanine / pharmacology*


  • Biomarkers
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances
  • beta-Alanine
  • Taurine
  • Carnosine
  • Anserine