Leucine-Enriched Essential Amino Acids Improve Recovery from Post-Exercise Muscle Damage Independent of Increases in Integrated Myofibrillar Protein Synthesis in Young Men Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Background: Leucine-enriched essential amino acids (LEAAs) acutely enhance post-exercise myofibrillar protein synthesis (MyoPS), which has been suggested to be important for muscle repair and recovery. However, the ability of LEAAs to concurrently enhance MyoPS and muscle damage recovery in free-living humans has not been studied. Methods: In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group design, twenty recreationally active males consuming a controlled diet (1.2 g/kg/d of protein) were supplemented thrice daily with 4 g of LEAAs (containing 1.6 g leucine) or isocaloric placebo for four days following an acute bout of lower-body resistance exercise (RE). MyoPS at rest and integrated over 96 h of recovery was measured by D2O. Isometric and isokinetic torque, muscle soreness, Z-band streaming, muscle heat shock protein (HSP) 25 and 72, plasma creatine kinase (CK), and plasma interleukin-6 (IL-6) were measured over 96 h post-RE to assess various direct and indirect markers of muscle damage. Results: Integrated MyoPS increased ~72% over 96 h after RE (p < 0.05), with no differences between groups (p = 0.98). Isometric, isokinetic, and total peak torque decreased ~21% by 48 h after RE (p < 0.05), whereas total peak torque was ~10% greater overall during recovery in LEAAs compared to placebo (p < 0.05). There were moderate to large effects for peak torque in favour of LEAAs. Muscle soreness increased during recovery with no statistical differences between groups but small to moderate effects in favour of LEAAs that correlated with changes in peak torque. Plasma CK, plasma IL-6, and muscle HSP25 increased after RE (p < 0.05) but were not significantly different between groups (p ≥ 0.13). Consistent with a trend toward attenuated Z-band streaming in LEAAs (p = 0.07), muscle HSP72 expression was lower (p < 0.05) during recovery in LEAAs compared with placebo. There were no correlations between MyoPS and any measures of muscle damage (p ≥ 0.37). Conclusion: Collectively, our data suggest that LEAAs moderately attenuated muscle damage without concomitant increases in integrated MyoPS in the days following an acute bout of resistance exercise in free-living recreationally active men.


  • Waskiw-Ford, Marcus
  • Hannaian, Sarkis
  • Duncan, Justin
  • Kato, Hiroyuki
  • Abou Sawan, Sidney
  • Locke, Marius
  • Kumbhare, Dinesh A
  • Moore, Daniel

publication date

  • April 11, 2020