The purpose of this study was to determine whether growth hormone (GH) administration enhances the muscle protein anabolism associated with heavy-resistance exercise training in older men. Twenty-three healthy, sedentary men (67 +/- 1 yr) with low serum insulin-like growth factor I levels followed a 16-wk progressive resistance exercise program (75-90% max strength, 4 days/wk) after random assignment to either a GH (12.5-24 micrograms.kg-1.day-1; n = 8) or placebo (n = 15) group. Fat-free mass (FFM) and total body water increased more in the GH group. Whole body protein synthesis and breakdown rates increased in the GH group after treatment. However, increments in vastus lateralis muscle protein synthesis rate, urinary creatinine excretion, and training-specific isotonic and isokinetic muscle strength were similar in both groups, while 24-h urinary 3-methylhistidine excretion was unchanged after treatment. These observations suggest that resistance exercise training improved muscle strength and anabolism in older men, but these improvements were not enhanced when exercise was combined with daily GH administration. The greater increase in FFM with GH treatment may have been due to an increase in noncontractile protein and fluid retention.
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