Skeletal muscle adaptation to immobilization and subsequent retraining in elderly men: No effect of anti-inflammatory medication

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Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may enhance resistance training induced gain in skeletal muscle mass and strength, but it is unknown if NSAIDs affects muscle loss during periods of inactivity in elderly individuals. Thus, we studied the influence of NSAID treatment on human skeletal muscle during immobilization and rehabilitation resistance training (retraining).


19 men (60–80 yrs, range) were randomly assigned to ibuprofen (1200 mg/d, Ibu) or placebo (Plc). One lower limb was immobilized in a cast for 2 weeks and retrained for 6 weeks. Moreover, whey protein isolate was ingested (2 × 20 g/d) throughout the whole study period. Plasma inflammatory markers, quadriceps muscle mass and strength, and muscle gene expression were investigated.


Muscle mass and strength decreased after 2 weeks of immobilization (P < 0.001), but returned to baseline levels after 2 weeks of retraining combined with whey protein supplementation (P < 0.001). Furthermore, muscle mass and strength reached beyond baseline levels after 6 weeks of retraining (p < 0.05), and NSAID did not significantly affect this (p > 0.05). No group-differences, but differences over time, were observed for muscle gene expression of proteolytic and anabolic factors. Plasma inflammatory markers were unaffected by the study intervention and NSAID treatment.


Two weeks of lower limb immobilization lead to a reduction in muscle mass and strength, but these parameters were restored already after 2 weeks of retraining and whey protein supplementation. After 6 weeks of retraining and whey protein supplementation, muscle mass and strength increased beyond baseline levels, and NSAID treatment did not significantly influence this in elderly.

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