Dietary omega-3 fatty acid supplementation increases the rate of muscle protein synthesis in older adults: A randomized controlled trial

Gordon I. Smith, Philip Atherton, Dominic N. Reeds, B. Selma Mohammed, Debbie Rankin, Michael J. Rennie, Bettina Mittendorfer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

402 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Loss of muscle mass with aging is a major public health concern. Omega-3 (n-3) fatty acids stimulate protein anabolism in animals and might therefore be useful for the treatment of sarcopenia. However, the effect of omega-3 fatty acids on human protein metabolism is unknown. Objective: The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on the rate of muscle protein synthesis in older adults. Design: Sixteen healthy, older adults were randomly assigned to receive either omega-3 fatty acids or corn oil for 8 wk. The rate of muscle protein synthesis and the phosphorylation of key elements of the anabolic signaling pathway were evaluated before and after supplementation during basal, postabsorptive conditions and during a hyperaminoacidemic-hyperinsulinemic clamp. Results: Corn oil supplementation had no effect on the muscle protein synthesis rate and the extent of anabolic signaling element phosphorylation in muscle. Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation had no effect on the basal rate of muscle protein synthesis (mean ± SEM: 0.051 ± 0.005%/h compared with 0.053 ± 0.008%/h before and after supplementation, respectively; P = 0.80) but augmented the hyperaminoacidemia-hyperinsulinemia-induced increase in the rate of muscle protein synthesis (from 0.009 ± 0.005%/h above basal values to 0.031 ± 0.003%/h above basal values; P < 0.01), which was accompanied by greater increases in muscle mTORSer2448 (P = 0.08) and p70s6k Thr389 (P < 0.01) phosphorylation. Conclusion: Omega-3 fatty acids stimulate muscle protein synthesis in older adults and may be useful for the prevention and treatment of sarcopenia. This trial was registered at clinical trials.gov as NCT00794079.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)402-412
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Volume93
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2011

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