Greater myofibrillar protein synthesis following weight-bearing activity in obese old compared with non-obese old and young individuals

Paul T Morgan, Benoit Smeuninx, Ryan N Marshall, Marie Korzepa, Jonathan I Quinlan, Jamie S McPhee, Leigh Breen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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The mechanisms through which obesity impacts age-related muscle mass regulation are unclear. In the present study, rates of integrated myofibrillar protein synthesis (iMyoPS) were measured over 48-h prior-to and following a 45-min treadmill walk in 10 older-obese (O-OB, body fat[%]: 33 ± 3%), 10 older-non-obese (O-NO, 20 ± 3%), and 15 younger-non-obese (Y-NO, 13 ± 5%) individuals. Surface electromyography was used to determine thigh muscle "activation". Quadriceps cross-sectional area (CSA), volume, and intramuscular thigh fat fraction (ITFF) were measured by magnetic resonance imaging. Quadriceps maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) was measured by dynamometry. Quadriceps CSA and volume were greater (muscle volume, Y-NO: 1182 ± 232 cm3; O-NO: 869 ± 155 cm3; O-OB: 881 ± 212 cm3, P < 0.01) and ITFF significantly lower (m. vastus lateralis, Y-NO: 3.0 ± 1.0%; O-NO: 4.0 ± 0.9%; O-OB: 9.1 ± 2.6%, P ≤ 0.03) in Y-NO compared with O-NO and O-OB, with no difference between O-NO and O-OB in quadriceps CSA and volume. ITFF was significantly higher in O-OB compared with O-NO. Relative MVC was lower in O-OB compared with Y-NO and O-NO (Y-NO: 5.5 ± 1.6 n·m/kg-1; O-NO: 3.9 ± 1.0 n·m/kg-1; O-OB: 2.9 ± 1.1 n·m/kg-1, P < 0.0001). Thigh muscle "activation" during the treadmill walk was greater in O-OB compared with Y-NO and O-NO (Y-NO: 30.5 ± 13.5%; O-NO: 35.8 ± 19.7%; O-OB: 68.3 ± 32.3%, P < 0.01). Habitual iMyoPS did not differ between groups, whereas iMyoPS was significantly elevated over 48-h post-walk in O-OB (+ 38.6 ± 1.2%·day-1, P < 0.01) but not Y-NO or O-NO (+ 11.4 ± 1.1%·day-1 and + 17.1 ± 1.1%·day-1, respectively, both P > 0.271). Equivalent muscle mass in O-OB may be explained by the muscle anabolic response to weight-bearing activity, whereas the age-related decline in indices of muscle quality appears to be exacerbated in O-OB and warrants further exploration.

Original languageEnglish
Early online date17 Jun 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

© 2023. The Author(s).


  • Fat mass
  • Intramuscular fat
  • Muscle mass
  • Muscle quality
  • Muscle protein synthesis
  • Obesity


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