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Concept: Metabolism


More than 2 million people in the United States have myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). We performed targeted, broad-spectrum metabolomics to gain insights into the biology of CFS. We studied a total of 84 subjects using these methods. Forty-five subjects (n = 22 men and 23 women) met diagnostic criteria for ME/CFS by Institute of Medicine, Canadian, and Fukuda criteria. Thirty-nine subjects (n = 18 men and 21 women) were age- and sex-matched normal controls. Males with CFS were 53 (±2.8) y old (mean ± SEM; range, 21-67 y). Females were 52 (±2.5) y old (range, 20-67 y). The Karnofsky performance scores were 62 (±3.2) for males and 54 (±3.3) for females. We targeted 612 metabolites in plasma from 63 biochemical pathways by hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography, electrospray ionization, and tandem mass spectrometry in a single-injection method. Patients with CFS showed abnormalities in 20 metabolic pathways. Eighty percent of the diagnostic metabolites were decreased, consistent with a hypometabolic syndrome. Pathway abnormalities included sphingolipid, phospholipid, purine, cholesterol, microbiome, pyrroline-5-carboxylate, riboflavin, branch chain amino acid, peroxisomal, and mitochondrial metabolism. Area under the receiver operator characteristic curve analysis showed diagnostic accuracies of 94% [95% confidence interval (CI), 84-100%] in males using eight metabolites and 96% (95% CI, 86-100%) in females using 13 metabolites. Our data show that despite the heterogeneity of factors leading to CFS, the cellular metabolic response in patients was homogeneous, statistically robust, and chemically similar to the evolutionarily conserved persistence response to environmental stress known as dauer.

Concepts: Protein, Amino acid, Metabolism, Adenosine triphosphate, Mass spectrometry, Biochemistry, Metabolic pathway, Chronic fatigue syndrome


In endothermic species, heat released as a product of metabolism ensures stable internal temperature throughout the organism, despite varying environmental conditions. Mitochondria are major actors in this thermogenic process. Part of the energy released by the oxidation of respiratory substrates drives ATP synthesis and metabolite transport, but a substantial proportion is released as heat. Using a temperature-sensitive fluorescent probe targeted to mitochondria, we measured mitochondrial temperature in situ under different physiological conditions. At a constant external temperature of 38 °C, mitochondria were more than 10 °C warmer when the respiratory chain (RC) was fully functional, both in human embryonic kidney (HEK) 293 cells and primary skin fibroblasts. This differential was abolished in cells depleted of mitochondrial DNA or treated with respiratory inhibitors but preserved or enhanced by expressing thermogenic enzymes, such as the alternative oxidase or the uncoupling protein 1. The activity of various RC enzymes was maximal at or slightly above 50 °C. In view of their potential consequences, these observations need to be further validated and explored by independent methods. Our study prompts a critical re-examination of the literature on mitochondria.

Concepts: DNA, Photosynthesis, Bacteria, Metabolism, Adenosine triphosphate, Mitochondrion, Oxidative phosphorylation, Cellular respiration


Protein timing is a popular dietary strategy designed to optimize the adaptive response to exercise. The strategy involves consuming protein in and around a training session in an effort to facilitate muscular repair and remodeling, and thereby enhance post-exercise strength- and hypertrophy-related adaptations. Despite the apparent biological plausibility of the strategy, however, the effectiveness of protein timing in chronic training studies has been decidedly mixed. The purpose of this paper therefore was to conduct a multi-level meta-regression of randomized controlled trials to determine whether protein timing is a viable strategy for enhancing post-exercise muscular adaptations. The strength analysis comprised 478 subjects and 96 ESs, nested within 41 treatment or control groups and 20 studies. The hypertrophy analysis comprised 525 subjects and 132 ESs, nested with 47 treatment or control groups and 23 studies. A simple pooled analysis of protein timing without controlling for covariates showed a small to moderate effect on muscle hypertrophy with no significant effect found on muscle strength. In the full meta-regression model controlling for all covariates, however, no significant differences were found between treatment and control for strength or hypertrophy. The reduced model was not significantly different from the full model for either strength or hypertrophy. With respect to hypertrophy, total protein intake was the strongest predictor of ES magnitude. These results refute the commonly held belief that the timing of protein intake in and around a training session is critical to muscular adaptations and indicate that consuming adequate protein in combination with resistance exercise is the key factor for maximizing muscle protein accretion.

Concepts: Metabolism, Energy, Muscle, Physical exercise, Actin, Tissues, Muscular system, Exercise physiology


Position Statement: The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) bases the following position stand on a critical analysis of the literature on the use of beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) as a nutritional supplement. The ISSN has concluded the following. 1. HMB can be used to enhance recovery by attenuating exercise induced skeletal muscle damage in trained and untrained populations. 2. If consuming HMB, an athlete will benefit from consuming the supplement in close proximity to their workout. 3. HMB appears to be most effective when consumed for 2 weeks prior to an exercise bout. 4. Thirty-eight daily of HMB has been demonstrated to enhance skeletal muscle hypertrophy, strength, and power in untrained and trained populations when the appropriate exercise prescription is utilized. 5. Currently, two forms of HMB have been used: Calcium HMB (HMB-Ca) and a free acid form of HMB (HMB-FA). HMB-FA may increase plasma absorption and retention of HMB to a greater extent than HMB-CA. However, research with HMB-FA is in its infancy, and there is not enough research to support whether one form is superior. 6. HMB has been demonstrated to increase LBM and functionality in elderly, sedentary populations. 7. HMB ingestion in conjunction with a structured exercise program may result in greater declines in fat mass (FM). 8. HMB’s mechanisms of action include an inhibition and increase of proteolysis and protein synthesis, respectively. 9. Chronic consumption of HMB is safe in both young and old populations.

Concepts: Protein, Metabolism, Nutrition, Obesity, Muscular system, Strength training, Exercise physiology, Muscle hypertrophy


BACKGROUND: The pattern of protein intake following exercise may impact whole-body protein turnover and net protein retention. We determined the effects of different protein feeding strategies on protein metabolism in resistance-trained young men. METHODS: Participants were randomly assigned to ingest either 80g of whey protein as 8x10g every 1.5h (PULSE; n=8), 4x20g every 3h (intermediate, INT; n=7), or 2x40g every 6h (BOLUS; n=8) after an acute bout of bilateral knee extension exercise (4x10 repetitions at 80% maximal strength). Whole-body protein turnover (Q), synthesis (S), breakdown (B), and net balance (NB) were measured throughout 12h of recovery by a bolus ingestion of [15N]glycine with urinary [15N]ammonia enrichment as the collected end-product. RESULTS: PULSE Q rates were greater than BOLUS (~19%, P<0.05) with a trend towards being greater than INT (~9%, P=0.08). Rates of S were 32% and 19% greater and rates of B were 51% and 57% greater for PULSE as compared to INT and BOLUS, respectively (P<0.05), with no difference between INT and BOLUS. There were no statistical differences in NB between groups (P=0.23); however, magnitude-based inferential statistics revealed likely small (mean effect+/-90%CI; 0.59+/-0.87) and moderate (0.80+/-0.91) increases in NB for PULSE and INT compared to BOLUS and possible small increase (0.42+/-1.00) for INT vs. PULSE. CONCLUSION: We conclude that the pattern of ingested protein, and not only the total daily amount, can impact whole-body protein metabolism. Individuals aiming to maximize NB would likely benefit from repeated ingestion of moderate amounts of protein (~20g) at regular intervals (~3h) throughout the day.

Concepts: Metabolism, Nutrition, Eating, Ingestion, Coprophagia, Digestive system, Mouth, Whey protein


Ketone bodies are the most energy-efficient fuel and yield more ATP per mole of substrate than pyruvate and increase the free energy released from ATP hydrolysis. Elevation of circulating ketones via high-fat, low-carbohydrate diets has been used for the treatment of drug-refractory epilepsy and for neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease. Ketones may also be beneficial for muscle and brain in times of stress, such as endurance exercise. The challenge has been to raise circulating ketone levels by using a palatable diet without altering lipid levels. We found that blood ketone levels can be increased and cholesterol and triglycerides decreased by feeding rats a novel ketone ester diet: chow that is supplemented with ®-3-hydroxybutyl ®-3-hydroxybutyrate as 30% of calories. For 5 d, rats on the ketone diet ran 32% further on a treadmill than did control rats that ate an isocaloric diet that was supplemented with either corn starch or palm oil (P < 0.05). Ketone-fed rats completed an 8-arm radial maze test 38% faster than did those on the other diets, making more correct decisions before making a mistake (P < 0.05). Isolated, perfused hearts from rats that were fed the ketone diet had greater free energy available from ATP hydrolysis during increased work than did hearts from rats on the other diets as shown by using [(31)P]-NMR spectroscopy. The novel ketone diet, therefore, improved physical performance and cognitive function in rats, and its energy-sparing properties suggest that it may help to treat a range of human conditions with metabolic abnormalities.-Murray, A. J., Knight, N. S., Cole, M. A., Cochlin, L. E., Carter, E., Tchabanenko, K., Pichulik, T., Gulston, M. K., Atherton, H. J., Schroeder, M. A., Deacon, R. M. J., Kashiwaya, Y., King, M. T., Pawlosky, R., Rawlins, J. N. P., Tyler, D. J., Griffin, J. L., Robertson, J., Veech, R. L., Clarke, K. Novel ketone diet enhances physical and cognitive performance.

Concepts: Metabolism, Nutrition, Adenosine triphosphate, Fatty acid, Lipid, Ketone, Ketone bodies, Carbohydrate


Cervicovaginal mucus (CVM) can provide a barrier that precludes HIV and other sexually transmitted virions from reaching target cells in the vaginal epithelium, thereby preventing or reducing infections. However, the barrier properties of CVM differ from woman to woman, and the causes of these variations are not yet well understood. Using high-resolution particle tracking of fluorescent HIV-1 pseudoviruses, we found that neither pH nor Nugent scores nor total lactic acid levels correlated significantly with virus trapping in unmodified CVM from diverse donors. Surprisingly, HIV-1 was generally trapped in CVM with relatively high concentrations of d-lactic acid and a Lactobacillus crispatus-dominant microbiota. In contrast, a substantial fraction of HIV-1 virions diffused rapidly through CVM with low concentrations of d-lactic acid that had a Lactobacillus iners-dominant microbiota or significant amounts of Gardnerella vaginalis, a bacterium associated with bacterial vaginosis. Our results demonstrate that the vaginal microbiota, including specific species of Lactobacillus, can alter the diffusional barrier properties of CVM against HIV and likely other sexually transmitted viruses and that these microbiota-associated changes may account in part for the elevated risks of HIV acquisition linked to bacterial vaginosis or intermediate vaginal microbiota.

Concepts: Bacteria, Metabolism, Virus, Genome, Lactic acid, Sexually transmitted diseases and infections, Bacterial vaginosis, Gardnerella vaginalis


A dietary protein intake higher than the Recommended Dietary Allowance during an energy deficit helps to preserve lean body mass (LBM), particularly when combined with exercise.

Concepts: Protein, Metabolism, Nutrition, Energy, Obesity, Muscle, Mass, Diet


Biological macromolecules function in highly crowded cellular environments. The structure and dynamics of proteins and nucleic acids are well characterized in vitro, but in vivo crowding effects remain unclear. Using molecular dynamics simulations of a comprehensive atomistic model cytoplasm we found that protein-protein interactions may destabilize native protein structures, whereas metabolite interactions may induce more compact states due to electrostatic screening. Protein-protein interactions also resulted in significant variations in reduced macromolecular diffusion under crowded conditions, while metabolites exhibited significant two-dimensional surface diffusion and altered protein-ligand binding that may reduce the effective concentration of metabolites and ligands in vivo. Metabolic enzymes showed weak non-specific association in cellular environments attributed to solvation and entropic effects. These effects are expected to have broad implications for the in vivo functioning of biomolecules. This work is a first step towards physically realistic in silico whole-cell models that connect molecular with cellular biology.

Concepts: Protein, Cell, Molecular biology, Metabolism, Enzyme, Nucleic acid, Biochemistry, Macromolecule


Glyphosate tolerant genetically modified (GM) maize NK603 was assessed as ‘substantially equivalent’ to its isogenic counterpart by a nutrient composition analysis in order to be granted market approval. We have applied contemporary in depth molecular profiling methods of NK603 maize kernels (sprayed or unsprayed with Roundup) and the isogenic corn to reassess its substantial equivalence status. Proteome profiles of the maize kernels revealed alterations in the levels of enzymes of glycolysis and TCA cycle pathways, which were reflective of an imbalance in energy metabolism. Changes in proteins and metabolites of glutathione metabolism were indicative of increased oxidative stress. The most pronounced metabolome differences between NK603 and its isogenic counterpart consisted of an increase in polyamines including N-acetyl-cadaverine (2.9-fold), N-acetylputrescine (1.8-fold), putrescine (2.7-fold) and cadaverine (28-fold), which depending on context can be either protective or a cause of toxicity. Our molecular profiling results show that NK603 and its isogenic control are not substantially equivalent.

Concepts: Protein, Metabolism, Adenosine triphosphate, Antioxidant, Oxidative phosphorylation, Cellular respiration, Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, Glycolysis