Research Study Abstract

Basal and Postprandial Myofibrillar Protein Synthesis Rates Do Not Differ between Lean and Obese Middle-Aged Men

  • Published on June 7, 2019

Excess lipid availability has been associated with the development of anabolic resistance. As such, obesity may be accompanied by impairments in muscle protein metabolism.

We hypothesized that basal and postprandial muscle protein synthesis rates are lower in obese than in lean men.

Twelve obese men [mean ± SEM age: 48 ± 2 y; BMI (in kg/m2): 37.0 ± 1.5; body fat: 32 ± 2%] and 12 age-matched lean controls (age: 43 ± 3 y; BMI: 23.4 ± 0.4; body fat: 21 ± 1%) received primed continuous L-[ring-2H5]-phenylalanine and L-[ring-3,5-2H2]-tyrosine infusions and ingested 25 g intrinsically L-[1-13C]-phenylalanine labeled whey protein. Repeated blood and muscle samples were obtained to assess protein digestion and amino acid absorption kinetics, and basal and postprandial myofibrillar protein synthesis rates.

Exogenous phenylalanine appearance rates increased after protein ingestion in both groups (P < 0.001), with a total of 53 ± 1% and 53 ± 2% of dietary protein–derived phenylalanine appearing in the circulation over the 5-h postprandial period in lean and obese men, respectively (P = 0.82). After protein ingestion, whole-body protein synthesis and oxidation rates increased to a greater extent in lean men than in the obese (P-interaction < 0.05), resulting in a higher whole-body protein net balance in the lean than in the obese (7.1 ± 0.2 and 4.6 ± 0.4 µmol phenylalanine · h−1 · kg−1, respectively; P-interaction < 0.001). Myofibrillar protein synthesis rates increased from 0.030 ± 0.002 and 0.028 ± 0.003%/h in the postabsorptive period to 0.034 ± 0.002 and 0.035 ± 0.003%.h−1 in the 5-h postprandial period (P = 0.03) in lean and obese men, respectively, with no differences between groups (P-interaction = 0.58).

Basal, postabsorptive myofibrillar protein synthesis rates do not differ between lean and obese middle-aged men. Postprandial protein handling, including protein digestion and amino acid absorption, and the postprandial muscle protein synthetic response after the ingestion of 25 g whey protein are not impaired in obese men. This trial was registered at as NTR4060.


  • Imre W K Kouw 1,2
  • Jan Willem van Dijk 1,2
  • Astrid M H Horstman 1,2
  • Irene Fleur Kramer 1,2
  • Joy P B Goessens 1
  • François M H van Dielen 3
  • Lex B Verdijk 1,2
  • Luc J C van Loon 1,2


  • 1

    Department of Human Biology, NUTRIM School of Nutrition and Translational Research in Metabolism, Maastricht University Medical Centre+, Maastricht, Netherlands

  • 2

    Top Institute Food and Nutrition, Wageningen, Netherlands

  • 3

    Department of Surgery, Obesity Center, Máxima Medical Center, Eindhoven, Netherlands


The Journal of Nutrition

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