Intravenous infusions of glucose and amino acids increase both nitrogen balance and muscle accretion. We hypothesised that co-infusion of glucose (to stimulate insulin) and essential amino acids (EAA) would act additively to improve nitrogen balance by decreasing muscle protein degradation in association with alterations in muscle expression of components of the ubiquitin-proteasome proteolytic pathway.
We examined the effect of a 5 day intravenous infusions of saline, glucose, EAA and glucose + EAA, on urinary nitrogen excretion and muscle protein degradation. We carried out the study in 6 restrained calves since ruminants offer the advantage that muscle protein degradation can be assessed by excretion of 3 methyl-histidine and multiple muscle biopsies can be taken from the same animal. On the final day of infusion blood samples were taken for hormone and metabolite measurement and muscle biopsies for expression of ubiquitin, the 14-kDa E2 ubiquitin conjugating enzyme, and proteasome sub-units C2 and C8.
On day 5 of glucose infusion, plasma glucose, insulin and IGF-1 concentrations were increased while urea nitrogen excretion and myofibrillar protein degradation was decreased. Co-infusion of glucose + EAA prevented the loss of urinary nitrogen observed with EAA infusions alone and enhanced the increase in plasma IGF-1 concentration but there was no synergistic effect of glucose + EAA on the decrease in myofibrillar protein degradation. Muscle mRNA expression of the ubiquitin conjugating enzyme, 14-kDa E2 and proteasome sub-unit C2 were significantly decreased, after glucose but not amino acid infusions, and there was no further response to the combined infusions of glucose + EAA.
Prolonged glucose infusion decreases myofibrillar protein degradation, prevents the excretion of infused EAA, and acts additively with EAA to increase plasma IGF-1 and improve net nitrogen balance. There was no evidence of synergistic effects between glucose + EAA infusion on muscle protein degradation or expression of components of the ubiquitin-proteasome proteolytic pathway.