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FASEB J. 2006 Apr;20(6):768-9. Epub 2006 Feb 7.

Insulin resistance of muscle protein metabolism in aging.

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Department of Kinesiology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA.


A reduced response of older skeletal muscle to anabolic stimuli may contribute to the development of sarcopenia. We hypothesized that muscle proteins are resistant to the anabolic action of insulin in the elderly. We examined the effects of hyperinsulinemia on muscle protein metabolism in young (25+/-2 year) and older (68+/-1 year) healthy subjects using stable isotope tracer techniques. Leg blood flow was higher in the young at baseline and increased during hyperinsulinemia, whereas it did not change in the elderly. Glucose concentrations and muscle uptake were not different between groups at baseline and during hyperinsulinemia. Leg phenylalanine net balance was not different at baseline and significantly increased in both groups with hyperinsulinemia (P<0.05) but to a greater extent in the young (P<0.05). Muscle protein synthesis increased only in the young during hyperinsulinemia. Muscle protein breakdown did not significantly change in either group, although it tended to decrease in the elderly. Changes in muscle protein synthesis were correlated with changes in leg amino acid delivery (R=0.89; P=0.0001) and blood flow (R=0.90; P<0.0001). In conclusion, skeletal muscle protein synthesis is resistant to the anabolic action of insulin in older subjects, which may be an important contributor to the development of sarcopenia.

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