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Am J Physiol. 1995 Mar;268(3 Pt 1):E422-7.

Myofibrillar protein synthesis in young and old human subjects after three months of resistance training.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Rochester, New York 14620.


Muscle protein synthesis is slower in healthy older men and women than in young adults, but whether this results from relative disuse rather than aging is unclear. The present study was done to examine rates of myofibrillar protein synthesis before and after a 3-mo progressive resistance exercise program in young and old men and women. Protein synthesis was determined by incorporation of the tracer L-[1-13C]leucine into myofibrillar proteins obtained from the vastus lateralis muscle by needle biopsy. Before exercise, mean fractional myofibrillar synthesis was 33% slower (P < 0.01) in nine older subjects (62-72 yr old, 5 men and 4 women) than in 9 young subjects (22-31 yr old, 5 men and 4 women). Initial strength, as determined by three-repetition-maximum tests, was significantly less in the older group. Strength and training weights increased similarly in young and old groups, when expressed in relation to baseline values. Posttraining myofibrillar synthesis was determined on the day after the final training session. There was not a significant change in fractional myofibrillar synthesis in either the young or the old group after training, and the rate in the older group remained 27% slower (P < 0.05). Whole body protein turnover increased approximately 10% only in the younger group, and 24-h urinary 3-methylhistidine excretion (an index of myofibrillar proteolysis) was not significantly affected by training. These data suggest that the slower myofibrillar synthesis rate in older subjects cannot be explained by disuse.

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