The present study investigated whether well-tolerated light-load resistance exercise (LL-RE) affects skeletal muscle fractional synthetic rate (FSR) and anabolic intracellular signaling as a way to counteract age-related loss of muscle mass. Untrained healthy elderly (>65-yr-old) men were subjected to 13 h of supine rest. After 2.5 h of rest, unilateral LL-RE, consisting of leg extensions (10 sets, 36 repetitions) at 16% of 1 repetition maximum (RM), was conducted. Subsequently, the subjects were randomized to oral intake of 4 g of whey protein per hour (PULSE, n = 10), 28 g of whey protein at 0 h and 12 g of whey protein at 7 h postexercise (BOLUS, n = 10), or 4 g of maltodextrin per hour (placebo, n = 10). Quadriceps muscle biopsies were taken at 0, 3, 7, and 10 h postexercise from the resting and the exercised leg of each subject. Myofibrillar FSR and activity of select targets from the mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1-signaling cascade were analyzed from the biopsies. LL-RE increased myofibrillar FSR compared with the resting leg throughout the 10-h postexercise period. Phosphorylated (T308) AKT expression increased in the exercised leg immediately after exercise. This increase persisted in the placebo group only. Levels of phosphorylated (T37/46) eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E-binding protein 1 increased throughout the postexercise period in the exercised leg in the placebo and BOLUS groups and peaked at 7 h. In all three groups, phosphorylated (T56) eukaryotic elongation factor 2 decreased in response to LL-RE. We conclude that resistance exercise at only 16% of 1 RM increased myofibrillar FSR, irrespective of nutrient type and feeding pattern, which indicates an anabolic effect of LL-RE in elderly individuals. This finding was supported by increased signaling for translation initiation and translation elongation in response to LL-RE.
- muscle protein synthesis
- resistance exercise
- mTORC1 signaling
- light load
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