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Nutr Res. 2012 Sep;32(9):676-83. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2012.07.005. Epub 2012 Sep 17.

Branched-chain amino acids reduce hindlimb suspension-induced muscle atrophy and protein levels of atrogin-1 and MuRF1 in rats.

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  • 1Department of Biophysics, Kobe University Graduate School of Health Science, Kobe, Japan.


Atrogin-1 and MuRF1, muscle-specific ubiquitin ligases, and autophagy play a role in protein degradation in muscles. We hypothesized that branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) may decrease atrogin-1, MuRF1, and autophagy, and may have a protective effect on disuse muscle atrophy. To test this hypothesis, we selected hindlimb suspension (HS)-induced muscle atrophy as a model of disuse muscle atrophy because it is an established model to investigate the effects of decreased muscle activity. Sprague-Dawley male rats were assigned to 4 groups: control, HS (14 days), oral BCAA administration (600 mg/[kg day], 22.9% L-isoleucine, 45.8% L-leucine, and 27.6% L-valine), and HS and BCAA administration. After 14 days of the treatment, muscle weights and protein concentrations, cross-sectional area (CSA) of the muscle fibers, atrogin-1 and MuRF1 proteins, and microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3 II/I (ratio of LC3 II/I) were measured. Hindlimb suspension significantly reduced soleus muscle weight and CSA of the muscle fibers. Branched-chain amino acid administration partly but significantly reversed the HS-induced decrease in CSA. Hindlimb suspension increased atrogin-1 and MuRF1 proteins, which play a pivotal role in various muscle atrophies. Branched-chain amino acid attenuated the increase in atrogin-1 and MuRF1 in soleus muscles. Hindlimb suspension significantly increased the ratio of LC3 II/I, an indicator of autophagy, whereas BCAA did not attenuate the increase in the ratio of LC3 II/I. These results indicate the possibility that BCAA inhibits HS-induced muscle atrophy, at least in part, via the inhibition of the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway. Oral BCAA administration appears to have the potential to prevent disuse muscle atrophy.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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