Hypercortisolemia alters muscle protein anabolism following ingestion of essential amino acids

Douglas Paddon-Jones, Melinda Sheffield-Moore, Daniel L. Creson, Arthur P. Sanford, Steven E. Wolf, Robert R. Wolfe, Arny A. Ferrando

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Debilitating injury is accompanied by hypercortisolemia, muscle wasting, and disruption of the normal anabolic response to food. We sought to determine whether acute hypercortisolemia alters muscle protein metabolism following ingestion of a potent anabolic stimulus: essential amino acids (EAA). A 27-h infusion (80 μg.kg-1.h-1) of hydrocortisone sodium succinate mimicked cortisol (C) levels accompanying severe injury (>30 μg/dl), (C + AA; n = 6). The control group (AA) received intravenous saline (n = 6). Femoral arteriovenous blood samples and muscle biopsies were obtained during a primed (2.0 μmol/kg) constant infusion (0.05 μmol·kg-1·min-1 of L-[ring-2H5]phenylalanine before and after ingestion of 15 g of EAA. Hypercortisolemia [36.5 ± 2.1 (C + AA) vs. 9.0 ± 1.0 μg/dl (AA)] increased postabsorptive arterial, venous, and muscle intracellular phenylalanine concentrations. Hypercortisolemia also increased postabsorptive and post-EAA insulin concentrations. Net protein balance was blunted (40% lower) following EAA ingestion but remained positive for a greater period of time (60 vs. 180 min) in the C + AA group. Thus, although differences in protein metabolism were evident, EAA ingestion improved muscle protein anabolism during acute hypercortisolemia and may help minimize muscle loss following debilitating injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E946-E953
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number5 47-5
StatePublished - May 1 2003


  • Cortisol
  • Injury
  • Metabolism
  • Stable isotopes
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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