More on Leucine Intake and Muscle Mass

You might recall that age-related issues with the body's processing of the dietary amino acid leucine were implicated as a possible contributing cause of sarcopenia, the progressive loss of muscle mass with age. More leucine in the diet seemed to be a possible treatment - here that is tried for cancer patients, with a generally positive outcome: "Maintenance of muscle mass is crucial to improving outcome and quality of life in cancer patients. Stimulating muscle protein synthesis is the metabolic basis for maintaining muscle mass, but in cancer patients normal dietary intake has minimal effects on muscle protein synthesis. Adding leucine to high protein supplements stimulates muscle protein synthesis in healthy older subjects. The objective was to determine if a specially formulated medical food, high in leucine and protein, stimulates muscle protein synthesis acutely in individuals with cancer to a greater extent than a conventional medical food. ... . Ingestion of the experimental medical food increased muscle protein [synthesis]. In contrast, ingestion of the control medical food did not ... Conclusions: In cancer patients, conventional nutritional supplementation is ineffective in stimulating muscle protein synthesis. This anabolic resistance can be overcome with a specially formulated nutritional supplement."

Link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21683485

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