A Novel Amino Acid Composition Ameliorates Short-Term Muscle Disuse Atrophy in Healthy Young Men

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Skeletal muscle disuse leads to atrophy, declines in muscle function, and metabolic dysfunction that are often slow to recover. Strategies to mitigate these effects would be clinically relevant. In a double-blind randomized-controlled pilot trial, we examined the safety and tolerability as well as the atrophy mitigating effect of a novel amino acid composition (AXA2678), during single limb immobilization. Twenty healthy young men were randomly assigned (10 per group) to receive AXA2678 or an excipient- and energy-matched non-amino acid containing placebo (PL) for 28d: days 1–7, pre-immobilization; days 8–15, immobilization; and days 16–28 post-immobilization recovery. Muscle biopsies were taken on d1, d8 (immobilization start), d15 (immobilization end), and d28 (post-immobilization recovery). Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was utilized to assess quadriceps muscle volume (Mvol), muscle cross-sectional area (CSA), and muscle fat-fraction (FF: the fraction of muscle occupied by fat). Maximal voluntary leg isometric torque was assessed by dynamometry. Administration of AXA2678 attenuated muscle disuse atrophy compared to PL (p < 0.05) with changes from d8 to d15 in PL: ΔMvol = −2.4 ± 2.3% and ΔCSA = −3.1% ± 2.1%, both p < 0.001 vs. zero; against AXA2678: ΔMvol: −0.7 ± 1.8% and ΔCSA: −0.7 ± 2.1%, both p > 0.3 vs. zero; and p < 0.05 between treatment conditions for CSA. During immobilization, muscle FF increased in PL but not in AXA2678 (PL: 12.8 ± 6.1%, AXA2678: 0.4 ± 3.1%; p < 0.05). Immobilization resulted in similar reductions in peak leg isometric torque and change in time-to-peak (TTP) torque in both groups. Recovery (d15–d28) of peak torque and TTP torque was also not different between groups, but showed a trend for better recovery in the AXA2678 group. Thrice daily consumption of AXA2678 for 28d was found to be safe and well-tolerated. Additionally, AXA2678 attenuated atrophy, and attenuated accumulation of fat during short-term disuse. Further investigations on the administration of AXA2678 in conditions of muscle disuse are warranted.

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