Context: Sarcopenia is associated with loss of strength and function, eventually leading to loss of independence. Some studies suggest that basal muscle protein turnover is reduced with aging, but other studies do not confirm this finding. Objective: To determine if aging per se affects basal muscle protein turnover in men. Design and Setting: Cross-sectional study conducted from June 1997 to July 2000 in a general US community. Participants: Twenty-six young (mean [SE] age, 28  years) and 22 older (mean [SE] age, 70  years) men, who were healthy and independent based on activities of daily living, physical examinations, and screening tests. Subjects were excluded if they had cardiac, pulmonary, liver, or kidney disease; any impairment in activities of daily living; or steroid use. Main Outcome Measures: We measured basal muscle protein and amino acid kinetics, based on stable isotope techniques with femoral arteriovenous catheterization and muscle biopsies. Three models (arteriovenous balance, three-pool, and fractional synthesis rate) were used to estimate the metabolic parameters. Results: Mean (SE) total leg volume was 9.60 (0.32) L in older men vs 10.83 (0.43) L in younger men, which suggests muscle loss in the older men. Net muscle protein balance was similar in both groups (older men,-19  nmol/min per 100 mL of leg volume vs younger men,-21  nmol/min per 100 mL of leg volume; P= .51). Small differences were found in mean (SE) muscle protein synthesis in comparisons of older vs younger men: arteriovenous balance, 48 (5) nmol/min per 100 mL of leg volume vs 32 (3) nmol/min per 100 mL of leg volume; P=.004; three-pool, 58 (5) nmol/min per 100 mL of leg volume vs 43 (4) nmol/min per 100 mL of leg volume; P=.04; and fractional synthesis rate, 0.0601 (0.0046) %/h vs 0.0578 (0.0047) %/h; P=.73. Small differences were also found in mean (SE) muscle protein breakdown: arteriovenous balance, 66 (5) nmol/min per 100 mL of leg volume in older vs 53 (4) nmol/min per 100 mL of leg volume in younger men, P=.045; and three-pool, 76 (6) nmol/min per 100 mL of leg volume vs 64 (5) nmol/min per 100 mL of leg volume, P=.14. Conclusion: Differences in basal muscle protein turnover between older and younger men do not appear to explain muscle loss that occurs with age.
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