Nutrient modulation in the management of disease-induced muscle wasting: evidence from human studies

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Purpose of reviewIn addition to being essential for movement, skeletal muscles act as both a store and source of key macronutrients. As such, muscle is an important tissue for whole body homeostasis, undergoing muscle wasting in times of starvation, disease, and stress, for example, to provide energy substrates for other tissues. Yet, muscle wasting is also associated with disability, comorbidities, and mortality. As nutrition is so crucial to maintaining muscle homeostasis ‘in health’, it has been postulated that muscle wasting in cachexia syndromes may be alleviated by nutritional interventions. This review will highlight recent work in this area in relation to muscle kinetics, the acute metabolic (e.g. dietary protein), and longer-term effects of dietary interventions.Recent findingsWhole body and skeletal muscle protein synthesis invariably exhibit deranged kinetics (favouring catabolism) in wasting states; further, many of these conditions harbour blunted anabolic responses to protein nutrition compared with healthy controls. These derangements underlie muscle wasting. Recent trials of essential amino acid and protein-based nutrition have shown some potential for therapeutic benefit.SummaryNutritional modulation, particularly of dietary amino acids, may have benefits to prevent or attenuate disease-induced muscle wasting. Nonetheless, there remains a lack of recent studies exploring these key concepts to make conclusive recommendations.

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