The effect of a high dose of 3-hydroxy-3-methylbutyrate on protein metabolism in growing lambs

Br J Nutr. 1997 Jun;77(6):885-96. doi: 10.1079/bjn19970087.


The effect of a high dose of 3-hydroxy-3-methylbutyrate (HMB, a leucine catabolite) on protein metabolism was investigated in growing male lambs fed on hay and concentrate. Concentrate was supplemented with either Ca(HMB)2 (4 g/kg) or Ca(CO3)2 in experimental (HMB) and control groups respectively. Both groups consisted of six 2-month old lambs. Three complementary methods to study protein metabolism were carried out consecutively 2.5 months after beginning the dietary treatment: whole body phenylalanine fluxes, postprandial plasma free amino acid time course and fractional rates of protein synthesis in skeletal muscles. Feeding a high dose of HMB led to a significant increase in some plasma free amino acids compared with controls. Total, oxidative and non-oxidative phenylalanine fluxes were not modified by dietary HMB supplementation. Similarly, an acute infusion of HMB, in the control group, did not change these fluxes. In skeletal muscles, fractional rates of protein synthesis were not affected by long-term dietary supplementation with HMB. Taken together our results showed that administration of a high dose of HMB to lambs was able to modify plasma free amino acid pattern without any effect on whole-body protein turnover and skeletal muscle protein synthesis.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Diet
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / analysis
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Phenylalanine / metabolism
  • Phenylalanine / pharmacology
  • Postprandial Period
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • Sheep / growth & development
  • Sheep / metabolism*
  • Valerates / pharmacology*


  • Amino Acids
  • Insulin
  • Proteins
  • Valerates
  • beta-hydroxyisovaleric acid
  • Phenylalanine
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I