Protein Anabolic Responses to a Fed Steady State in Healthy Aging

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Background.Protein anabolism in response to feeding may be impaired with aging. To determine if this could contribute to muscle loss, we studied fed-state metabolic responses in healthy, non-sarcopenic elderly women.Methods.Whole-body [3H]glucose and protein ([13C]leucine) kinetics were measured, and muscle protein fractional synthesis rate ([2H5]phenylalanine) and signaling events were assessed from vastus lateralis biopsies in eight elderly (73 ± 3 years) and eight young women (24 ± 1 years), using a simulated fed steady-state clamp.Results.Both groups had similar muscle and lean body mass indices and activity level. During insulin, glucose (8 mmol/L), and amino acid (AA; 2× fasting) infusions, serum insulin was lower in the elderly women and C-peptide increased less. Glucose uptake was stimulated, and production suppressed similarly. Suppression of whole-body protein breakdown was less in the elderly women, leading to lower AA infusion rates, oxidation, and net positive protein balance, but differences were not present when adjusted for serum insulin. Whole-body protein synthesis and muscle protein fractional synthesis rate increased similarly. Similar increases in phosphorylated AktSer473, PRAS40Thr246, FoxO3aThr32, and rpS6Ser240/244 indicated no alterations in insulin/nutrient signaling with aging.Conclusions.Both whole-body and muscle fed-state protein anabolic responses were preserved, as was insulin sensitivity of glucose metabolism, in active, healthy elderly women. This is consistent with other factors such as sedentarity, low protein intake, and concurrent diseases, being responsible for the sarcopenia of aging.

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