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Short periods of muscle disuse result in substantial skeletal muscle atrophy. Recently, we showed that both neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) as well as presleep dietary protein ingestion represent effec-tive strategies to stimulate muscle protein synthesis rates. In this study, we test our hypothesis that NMES can augment the use of presleep protein-derived amino acids for overnight muscle protein synthesis in older men. Twenty healthy, older [69 1 (SE) yr] men were subjected to 24 h of bed rest, starting at 8:00 AM. In the evening, volunteers were subjected to 70-min 1-legged NMES, while the other leg served as nonstimulated control (CON). Immediately following NMES, 40 g of intrinsically L-[1-13C]-phenylalanine labeled protein was ingested prior to sleep. Blood samples were taken throughout the night, and muscle biopsies were obtained from both legs in the evening and the following morning (8 h after protein ingestion) to assess dietary protein-derived L-[1-13C]-phenylalanine enrichments in myofibrillar protein. Plasma phenylalanine concentrations and plasma L-[1-13C]-phenylalanine enrichments increased signifi-cantly following protein ingestion and remained elevated for up to 6 h after protein ingestion (P 0.05). During overnight sleep, myofibrillar protein-bound L-[1-13C]-phenylalanine enrichments (MPE) increased to a greater extent in the stimulated compared with the control leg (0.0344 0.0019 vs. 0.0297 0.0016 MPE, respectively; P 0.01), representing 18 6% greater incorpora-tion of presleep protein-derived amino acids in the NMES com-pared with CON leg. In conclusion, application of NMES prior to presleep protein feeding stimulates the use of dietary protein-derived amino acids for overnight muscle protein synthesis in older men.


Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research

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Journal Article

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