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Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More. Branched chain amino acids BCAA have been extensively used to improve physical performance. Insulin and C-peptide concentrations declined over time during the saline infusion, but these declines were prevented by the BCAA infusion. Conclusions: BCAA increased skeletal muscle MAPR in the young participants in comparison with saline, but this effect was not seen in the elderly participants indicating, that unlike in the young, BCAA does not increase muscle mitochondrial function in the elderly. Sarcopenia contributes to many of the chronic pathologies associated with aging, including frailty, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes 12.

In addition to sarcopenia, there is increasing evidence of age-related declines in skeletal muscle mitochondrial function 34 in association with reduced peak oxygen uptake. In particular, prior studies indicate that maximal mitochondrial ATP production rates MAPR and activity of mitochondrial oxidative enzymes Brian unger muscle with age.

The age-related decline in mitochondrial function is associated with reductions in mitochondrial DNA mtDNA abundance 56.

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Amino acids, particularly branch chain amino acids BCAAsprovide an attractive nonpharmacological approach for the potential prevention and treatment of sarcopenia and its related comorbidities. Many athletes and bodybuilders use BCAA supplements with the belief that they act as an ergogenic aid by enhancing their physical performance and skeletal muscle accretion 78. In addition, amino acids, particularly BCAAs, may be used clinically to attenuate diet-induced muscle atrophy 9to facilitate wound healing 1011and prevent sarcopenia 1213 We ly reported that maximal MAPR, activity of mitochondrial enzymes, and abundance of mRNA gene transcripts encoding mitochondrial proteins were stimulated by an 8-h infusion of insulin plus a mixture of amino acids in healthy young participants The above study suggests a unique role for amino acids in regulating both muscle mitochondrial function and protein synthesis and an intriguing interaction between amino acids and mitochondrial biogenesis.

Mechanistically, BCAAs enhance cell aling pathways [ e. Akt-mammalian target of rapamycin mTOR Brian unger muscle that regulate skeletal muscle protein synthesis 17which in turn may also facilitate an enhancement in mitochondrial ATP production. BCAAs may also have important effects on intermediary metabolism, which also facilitate an enhancement mitochondrial function.

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For example, leucine provides carbon skeletons to the citric acid cycle at the level of acetyl-CoA that may acutely enhance both citric acid cycle flux and mitochondrial ATP production. To our knowledge, no data exist that examines the efficacy of amino acid supplementation for improving skeletal muscle mitochondrial function in the elderly.

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This study was deed to examine the effects of a single 8-h infusion of BCAAs on skeletal muscle mitochondrial function in young and elderly adults. Secondary measurements e. Values are shown as mean sem.

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Male to female ratio is Participants underwent an initial screening that included a medical history; physical examination; resting electrocardiogram; and biochemical tests of renal, hepatic, hematological and metabolic function. Participants with evidence of diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and thyroid dysfunction or a history of alcohol or substance abuse were excluded due to the potential effects these diseases may have on the outcome measures.

Within 1 month of the screening examination, participants were admitted to the CRU on the evening before their inpatient study day. Premenopausal participants were studied in the luteal phase of their menstrual cycle. Participants were provided a weight-maintaining diet energy composition of carbohydrate, fat, and protein at the ratio of for the 3 d before their inpatient study from the CRU metabolic kitchen Upon CRU admission, on d 3 of the diet, participants received dinner at h and a standardized snack 5.

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The second study day was performed between 2 and 12 wk after the initial inpatient study. At approximately h the following morning, an iv catheter was inserted in the dorsal hand vein and kept in a hot box to collect arterialized venous blood samples The order of the infusions was randomized. The volume of saline 0.

The BCAA infusion was administered for 8 h because we ly reported that Brian unger muscle combined infusion of insulin and amino acids did not ificantly affect gene expression or MAPR after only 4 h of infusion, whereas ificant effects on both gene expression and MAPR were observed after 8 h of infusion Blood glucose concentration was measured during each test with the glucose oxidase method Beckman Instruments, Fullerton, CA.

Louis, MO. Maximal MAPRs were assessed in isolated mitochondria using a bioluminescent technique, as ly described 3 The supernatant was removed and spun at 10, g. Substrates added in millimole final concentration were either 10 glutamate plus 1 malate GM or 20 succinate plus 0.

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Mitochondrial and tissue homogenate citrate synthase activity was used to calculate mitochondrial ATP production in whole tissue as ly described The data were examined for departures from normality and log transformations were used for the parameters when the variables were not normally distributed. Using the data from a study 16 and assuming the correlation between the two studies is equal to 0. For single measurements between age groups and treatment groups, paired two-tailed t tests were used.

Branched chain amino acid concentrations. A—C, Plasma concentrations of valine, isoleucine, and leucine, respectively, during the 8-h infusion of either BCAA or saline. Brian unger muscle depicted in Fig. In contrast, insulin declined from baseline in both age groups during the saline infusion. Hormones and substrates. The BCAA infusion maintained the C-peptide concentrations at higher concentrations at 4 and 8 h compared with the saline trial Fig. Glucagon concentrations declined from baseline in both age groups during the saline infusion Fig.

FFA levels gradually increased, in both age groups, during saline infusion Fig. A and B, Baseline mitochondrial MAPR expressed per gram of tissue during the saline open bars and branched chain amino acid filled bars infusions by age group. C and D, Baseline mitochondrial MAPR expressed per milligram of mitochondrial protein during the saline open bars and branched chain amino acid filled bars infusions by age group. Within the young group Fig. Similar trends were also observed when the MAPR data were expressed relative to mitochondrial protein content Fig. There were no ificant changes in MAPR in the elderly participants whether normalized to tissue weight or mitochondrial protein content.

Baseline citrate synthase activity units per gram tissue per minute levels were lower in the elderly than the young under both the saline There were no changes in citrate synthase activity in response Brian unger muscle either BCAA or saline in either age group.

There were no ificant changes in mtDNA abundance within or between treatments, irrespective of age. A and B, mtDNA abundance after either an 8-h infusion of saline open bars or BCAA filled bars infusions assessed using primers and probes directed to mitochondrial-encoded genes nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide hydroxide dehydrogenase-1 ND1, A and 4 ND4, B normalized to 28 sec. The current study examined the effects of an 8-h infusion of BCAA on skeletal muscle mitochondrial ATP production in sedentary young and elderly adults.

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The infusion of BCAA also increased plasma concentrations of insulin, C-peptide, and glucagon in both groups relative to the time-related declines in these hormones that were observed during the saline condition. Moreover, BCAA although increasing plasma concentrations of leucine, isoleucine and valine reduced the concentrations of many other amino acids, consistent with the reduction in protein breakdown and endogenous amino acid influx 24 This study aids in the understanding of the underlying physiological processes stimulated by BCAA, which are readily available as nutritional supplements.

As is seen with other medications and supplements, there were variations in the physiological response that were associated with aging. Although the underlying mechanisms for these responses remain unclear, it is possible that BCAA-induced stimulation of insulin secretion may play a role.

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In support of this contention, it has been ly reported that a physiological infusion of insulin, in conjunction with amino acids, enhances skeletal muscle MAPR, gene transcripts encoding mitochondrial proteins, and mitochondrial protein synthesis in young adults Moreover, it was also recently demonstrated that insulin action is an important determinant of skeletal MAPR in people with type 1 diabetes However, the present data suggest that the effects BCAA-induced enhancement in MAPR are probably driven more by the acute elevation of BCAA rather than insulin because the differences in insulin exposure between conditions was relatively small when compared with our insulin and amino acid infusion studies.

In a corollary, it has been shown that skeletal muscle protein synthesis is Brian unger muscle in response to insulin 27and therefore, it is conceivable that this mechanism may also be involved in the blunting of the response to BCAA.

The BCAA-induced enhancement of cell aling pathways e. Akt-mTOR that regulate skeletal muscle protein synthesis 17 may also play a role in facilitating the acute enhancement in mitochondrial function. Indeed, it has recently been reported that leucine supplementation enhances postprandial mitochondrial protein synthesis in male Wistar rats Consistent with our reports 333the present data indicate that sedentary elderly adults have lower MAPRs than sedentary younger adults.

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It could be hypothesized that age-related declines in sex hormones e. As expected, the elderly men had lower testosterone concentrations than young men.

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It could also be postulated that the lack of response to BCAA particularly in elderly men may be related to reduction in circulating sex hormones. However, the present study was not deed to properly address this issue. Future studies are warranted to examine the role of age-related declines in circulating sex hormones on mitochondrial function. Interestingly, we recently reported that MAPRs are lower in women than men, which may be related to differences in sex hormones Although we did not observe a ificant sex effect on MAPRs in the present study, it should be recognized that the present study was not powered to detect a main effect of sex on MAPRs.

It could be argued that the BCAA dose might have been insufficient to exert a stimulatory effect on mitochondrial function in the elderly.

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Indeed, healthy elderly adults have been shown to be resistant to the anabolic effects of amino acids 34 ; therefore, it may be possible that elderly adults are also resistant to the stimulatory effects of BCAAs on Brian unger muscle function. Further studies are warranted to examine whether higher doses of BCAAs result in improvements in mitochondrial function among the elderly.

Amino acids, including BCAAs, are well known to have pluripotent effects on the pancreas, including the promotion of insulin and glucagon secretion in humans and animals 353637 Indeed, the present data clearly demonstrate that the infusion of BCAAs affects both insulin and glucagon secretion. Of the BCAAs, leucine has been reported to be the most potent stimulator of insulin secretion in animals 39 However, in lean healthy humans, it has been reported that the a 5-h iv infusion of leucine has only a limited effect on insulin secretion Differences in the duration 8 vs.

The effect of BCAA infusion to prevent the time-related decline in glucagon may be due in part to the larger decline in plasma glucose compared with the saline trial.