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07.11.2011


NO donor boosts after-dinner anabolism in the elderly

After a meal of carbohydrates and proteins muscle building increases, but the anabolic response declines with age. This is one of the reasons why it becomes increasingly difficult to build muscle mass after the age of forty. Researchers at the University of Texas in Galveston discovered that NO boosters might be a way of doing something about this.

The researchers did an experiment with 12 healthy but inactive elderly people in their seventies. The subjects in the control group were given a mix of insulin, glucose and phenylalanine through a catheter; the subjects in the experimental group were given the same but with the NO donor sodium nitroprusside added.

In young people insulin widens the blood vessels thereby increasing the circulation in muscle tissue, but as we age this effect of insulin declines. As a result, the researchers hypothesised, meals have a lower anabolic effect in the elderly.

If this theory holds water, you might be able to compensate for this aging effect by added substances that boost the production of NO in the blood vessels. So the addition of sodium nitroprusside should boost the muscle-building effect of glucose, the amino acid and insulin. And, according to the figure below, this is what happened.

The addition of the NO donor enhanced the uptake of the amino acid phenylalanine and increased the blood supply in the muscle tissue by a factor of 9.


NO donor boosts after-dinner anabolism in the elderly


NO donor boosts after-dinner anabolism in the elderly


The anabolic signal molecule Akt became more active as a result of the NO donor; the activity of the signal molecule mTOR decreased. A recent study has shown that NO inhibits mTOR. But according to this study, the net effect of the NO booster was positive.


NO donor boosts after-dinner anabolism in the elderly


"These data provide strong evidence that insulin's ability to stimulate blood flow and amino acid delivery are necessary for it to induce a muscle protein synthetic response", the researchers conclude. If the researchers are on the right track, then older strength athletes can build more muscle by adding NO boosters to their meals.

Source:
Diabetes. 2010 Nov;59(11):2764-71.

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