Enhanced protein breakdown after eccentric exercise in young and older men

R. A. Fielding, C. N. Meredith, K. P. O'Reilly, W. R. Frontera, J. G. Cannon, W. J. Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


The effects of eccentric exercise on whole body protein metabolism were compared in five young untrained [age 24 ± 1 yr, maximal O2 uptake (V̇O(2max)) = 49 ± 6 ml · kg-1 · min-1] and five older untrained men (age 61 ± 1 yr, V̇O(2max) = 34 ± 2 ml · kg-1 · min-1). They performed 45 min of eccentric exercise on a cycle ergometer at a power output equivalent to 80% V̇O(2max) (182 ± 18 W). Beginning 5 days before exercise and continuing for at least 10 days after exercise, they consumed a eucaloric diet providing 1.5 g · kg-1 · day-1 of protein. Leucine metabolism in the fed state was measured before, immediately after, and 10 days after exercise, with intravenous L-[1-13C]leucine as a tracer (0.115 μmol · kg-1 · min-1). Leucine flux increased 9% immediately after exercise (P < 0.011) and remain elevated 10 days later, with no effect of age. Leucine oxidation increased 19% immediately after exercise and remained 15% above baseline 10 days after exercise (P < 0.0001), with no effect of age. In the young men, urinary excretion of 3-methylhistidine per gram of creatinine did not increase until 10 days postexercise (P < 0.05), but in the older men, it increased 5 days after exercise and remained high through 10 days postexercise (P < 0.05), averaging 37% higher than in the young men. These data suggest that eccentric exercise produces a similar increase in whole body protein breakdown in older and young men, but myofibrillar proteolysis may contribute more to whole body protein breakdown in the older group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)674-679
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • aging
  • muscle injury
  • physical activity
  • proteolysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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