Ergogenic Effect of BCAAs and L-Alanine Supplementation: Proof-of-Concept Study in a Murine Model of Physiological Exercise

Paola Mantuano, Gianluca Bianchini, Ornella Cappellari, Brigida Boccanegra, Elena Conte, Francesca Sanarica, Antonietta Mele, Giulia M Camerino, Laura Brandolini, Marcello Allegretti, Michela De Bellis, Andrea Aramini, Annamaria De Luca
Background: Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs: leucine, isoleucine, valine) account for 35% of skeletal muscle essential amino acids (AAs). As such, they must be provided in the diet to support peptide synthesis and inhibit protein breakdown. Although substantial evidence has been collected about the potential usefulness of BCAAs in supporting muscle function and structure, dietary supplements containing BCAAs alone may not be effective in controlling muscle protein turnover, due to the rate-limiting bioavailability of other AAs involved in BCAAs metabolism. Methods: We aimed to evaluate the in vivo/ex vivo effects of a 4-week treatment with an oral formulation containing BCAAs alone (2:1:1) on muscle function, structure, and metabolism in a murine model of physiological exercise, which was compared to three modified formulations combining BCAAs with increasing concentrations of L-Alanine (ALA), an AA controlling BCAAs catabolism. Results: A preliminary pharmacokinetic study confirmed the ability of ALA to boost up BCAAs bioavailability. After 4 weeks, mix 2 (BCAAs + 2ALA) had the best protective effect on mice force and fatigability, as well as on muscle morphology and metabolic indices. Conclusion: Our study corroborates the use of BCAAs + ALA to support muscle health during physiological exercise, underlining how the relative BCAAs/ALA ratio is important to control BCAAs distribution.

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