Glutamate availability is important in intramuscular amino acid metabolism and TCA cycle intermediates but does not affect peak oxidative metabolism
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Muscle glutamate is central to reactions producing 2-oxoglutarate, a tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle intermediate that essentially expands the TCA cycle intermediate pool during exercise. Paradoxically, muscle glutamate drops approximately 40-80% with the onset of exercise and 2-oxoglutarate declines in early exercise. To investigate the physiological relationship between glutamate, oxidative metabolism, and TCA cycle intermediates (i.e., fumarate, malate, 2-oxoglutarate), healthy subjects trained (T) the quadriceps of one thigh on the single-legged knee extensor ergometer (1 h/day at 70% maximum workload for 5 days/wk), while their contralateral quadriceps remained untrained (UT). After 5 wk of training, peak oxygen consumption (VO2peak) in the T thigh was greater than that in the UT thigh (P<0.05); VO2peak was not different between the T and UT thighs with glutamate infusion. Peak exercise under control conditions revealed a greater glutamate uptake in the T thigh compared with rest (7.3+/-3.7 vs. 1.0+/-0.1 micromol.min(-1).kg wet wt(-1), P<0.05) without increase in TCA cycle intermediates. In the UT thigh, peak exercise (vs. rest) induced an increase in fumarate (0.33+/-0.07 vs. 0.02+/-0.01 mmol/kg dry wt (dw), P<0.05) and malate (2.2+/-0.4 vs. 0.5+/-0.03 mmol/kg dw, P<0.05) and a decrease in 2-oxoglutarate (12.2+/-1.6 vs. 32.4+/-6.8 micromol/kg dw, P<0.05). Overall, glutamate infusion increased arterial glutamate (P<0.05) and maintained this increase. Glutamate infusion coincided with elevated fumarate and malate (P<0.05) and decreased 2-oxoglutarate (P<0.05) at peak exercise relative to rest in the T thigh; there were no further changes in the UT thigh. Although glutamate may have a role in the expansion of the TCA cycle, glutamate and TCA cycle intermediates do not directly affect VO2peak in either trained or untrained muscle.
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