Leucine coingestion augments the muscle protein synthetic response to the ingestion of 15 g of protein following resistance exercise in older men

Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2019 Sep 1;317(3):E473-E482. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00073.2019. Epub 2019 May 21.


Older adults have shown an attenuated postexercise increase in muscle protein synthesis rates following ingestion of smaller amounts of protein compared with younger adults. Consequently, it has been suggested that older adults require the ingestion of more protein to increase postexercise muscle protein synthesis rates compared with younger adults. We investigated whether coingestion of 1.5 g of free leucine with a single 15-g bolus of protein further augments the postprandial muscle protein synthetic response during recovery from resistance-type exercise in older men. Twenty-four healthy older men (67 ± 1 yr) were randomly assigned to ingest 15 g of milk protein concentrate (MPC80) with (15G+LEU; n = 12) or without (15G; n = 12) 1.5 g of free leucine after performing a single bout of resistance-type exercise. Postprandial protein digestion and amino acid absorption kinetics, whole body protein metabolism, and postprandial myofibrillar protein synthesis rates were assessed using primed, continuous infusions with l-[ring-2H5]phenylalanine, l-[ring-2H2]tyrosine, and l-[1-13C]leucine combined with ingestion of intrinsically l-[1-13C]phenylalanine-labeled milk protein. A total of 70 ± 1% (10.5 ±0.2 g) and 75 ± 2% (11.2 ± 0.3 g) of the protein-derived amino acids were released in the circulation during the 6-h postexercise recovery phase in 15G+LEU and 15G, respectively (P < 0.05). Postexercise myofibrillar protein synthesis rates were 16% (0.058 ± 0.003 vs. 0.049 ± 0.002%/h, P < 0.05; based on l-[ring-2H5]phenylalanine) and 19% (0.071 ± 0.003 vs. 0.060 ± 0.003%/h, P < 0.05; based on l-[1-13C]leucine) greater in 15G+LEU compared with 15G. Leucine coingestion further augments the postexercise muscle protein synthetic response to the ingestion of a single 15-g bolus of protein in older men.

Keywords: aging; dietary protein; exercise; leucine; muscle protein synthesis; sarcopenia.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / metabolism
  • Amino Acids / blood
  • Amino Acids / metabolism
  • Dietary Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leucine / blood
  • Leucine / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Milk Proteins / pharmacology
  • Muscle Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Myofibrils / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation / drug effects
  • Postprandial Period
  • Resistance Training*
  • Sarcopenia / prevention & control


  • Amino Acids
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Milk Proteins
  • Muscle Proteins
  • Leucine