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Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Oct;295(4):E959-63. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00671.2007. Epub 2008 Aug 19.

Sequential muscle biopsies during a 6-h tracer infusion do not affect human mixed muscle protein synthesis and muscle phenylalanine kinetics.

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  • 1Departments of Internal Medicine, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas 77555-0460, USA.


Stable isotope tracer experiments of human muscle amino acid and protein kinetics often involve a sequential design, with the same subject studied at baseline and during an intervention. However, prolonged fasting and sequential muscle biopsies from the same area could theoretically affect muscle protein metabolism. The purpose of this study was to determine if sequential muscle biopsies and extended fasting significantly affect parameters of muscle protein and amino acid kinetics in six human subjects. After a 12-h overnight fast, a primed continuous infusion of L-[ring-(2)H(5)]phenylalanine was started. After 120 min, we took the first of a series of five hourly muscle biopsies from the same vastus lateralis to measure mixed muscle protein fractional synthetic rate. Furthermore, between 150-180, 210-240, and 330-360 min, we measured leg phenylalanine kinetics using the two-pool and the three-pool arteriovenous balance models. Tracer enrichments were at steady state, and muscle protein FSR and phenylalanine kinetics did not change throughout the experiment (P=not significant). We conclude that a 6-h tracer infusion during extended fasting (up to 18 h) with five sequential muscle biopsies from the same muscle do not affect basal mixed muscle protein synthesis and muscle phenylalanine kinetics in human subjects. Thus, when using a sequential study design over this period of time, it is unnecessary to include a saline only control group to account for these variables.

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