Protein-leucine fed dose effects on muscle protein synthesis after endurance exercise

David S. Rowlands, Andre R. Nelson, Stuart M. Phillips, James A. Faulkner, Jim Clarke, Nicholas A Burd, Daniel Moore, Trent Stellingwerff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Protein-leucine ingestion after strenuous endurance exercise accentuates muscle protein synthesis and improves recovery of muscle performance. Purpose: The objective of this study is to determine whether a low-dose protein-leucine blend ingested after endurance exercise enhances skeletal muscle myofibrillar protein fractional synthetic rate (FSR). Method: In a crossover design, 12 trained men completed 100 min of high-intensity cycling, then ingested either 70/15/180/30 < of protein/leucine/ carbohydrate/fat (15LEU), 23/5/180/30 < of 5LEU, or 0/0/274/30 < of CON beverages in randomized order in four servings during the first 90 min of a 240-min recovery period. Muscle biopsies were collected at 30 and 240 min into recovery with FSR determined by L-[ring-13C6]phenylalanine incorporation and mTORC1 pathway phosphorylation by Western blot. Results: The 33% (90% CL, T12%) increase in FSR with 5LEU (mean, SD: 0.080, 0.014%Ihj1) versus CON (0.060, 0.012%Ihj1) represented near-maximal FSR stimulation. Tripling protein-leucine dose (15LEU: 0.090, 0.11%Ihj1) negligibly increased FSR (13%, T12% vs 5LEU). Despite similar FSR, mTORC1Ser2448 phosphorylation only increased with 15LEU at 30 min, whereas p70S6KThr389, rpS6Ser240/244, and 4E-BP1FSer112 phosphorylation increased with protein-leucine quantity at one or both time points. Plasma leucine and essential amino acid concentrations decreased during recovery in CON but increased with protein-leucine dose. Serum insulin was increased in 15LEU versus CON (60%, ±20%) but was unaffected relative to 5LEU. Regression analysis revealed p70S6K-rpS6 phosphorylation moderately predicted FSR, but the associations with plasma leucine and essential amino acidswere small. Conclusions: Ingesting 23 < of proteinwith 5 < of added leucine achieved near-maximal FSR after endurance exercise, an effect unlikely attributable to mTORC1-S6K-rpS6 signaling, insulin, or amino acids. Translating the effects of protein-leucine quantity on protein synthesis to optimizing adaptation and performance requires further research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)547-555
Number of pages9
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 26 2014


  • Myofibrillar protein fractional synthesis rate
  • mTOR
  • p70S6K
  • translation initiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

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