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J Appl Physiol (1985). 1999 Nov;87(5):1662-7.

Low glycogen and branched-chain amino acid ingestion do not impair anaplerosis during exercise in humans.

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Departments of Kinesiology and Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4K1.


We examined the hypothesis that increasing the rate of branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) oxidation, during conditions of low glycogen availability, reduces the level of muscle tricarboxylic acid cycle intermediates (TCAI) by placing a carbon "drain" on the cycle at the level of 2-oxoglutarate. Six men cycled at approximately 70% of maximal oxygen uptake for 15 min under two conditions: 1) low preexercise muscle glycogen (placebo) and 2) low glycogen combined with BCAA ingestion. We have previously shown that BCAA ingestion increased the activity of branched-chain oxoacid dehydrogenase, the rate-limiting enzyme for BCAA oxidation in muscle, compared with low glycogen alone [M. L. Jackman, M. J. Gibala, E. Hultman, and T. E. Graham. Am. J. Physiol. 272 (Endocrinol. Metab. 35): E233-E238, 1997]. Muscle glycogen concentration was 185 +/- 22 and 206 +/- 22 mmol/kg dry wt at rest for the placebo and BCAA-supplemented trials, respectively, and decreased to 109 +/- 18 and 96 +/- 10 mmol/kg dry wt after exercise. The net increase in the total concentration of six measured TCAI ( approximately 95% of TCAI pool) during exercise was not different between trials (3.97 +/- 0. 34 vs. 3.88 +/- 0.34 mmol/kg dry wt for the placebo and BCAA trials, respectively). Muscle 2-oxoglutarate concentration decreased from approximately 0.05 at rest to approximately 0.03 mmol/kg dry wt after exercise in both trials. The magnitude of TCAI pool expansion in both trials was similar to that seen previously in subjects who performed an identical exercise bout after a normal mixed diet [M. J. Gibala, M. A. Tarnopolsky, and T. E. Graham. Am. J. Physiol. 272 (Endocrinol. Metab. 35): E239-E244, 1997]. These data suggest that increasing the rate of BCAA oxidation has no measurable effect on muscle TCAI during exercise with low glycogen in humans. Moreover, it appears that low resting glycogen per se does not impair the increase in TCAI during moderate exercise.

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