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Concept: Muscle


Nutrient timing is a popular nutritional strategy involves the consumption of combinations of nutrients–primarily protein and carbohydrate–in and around an exercise session. Some have claimed that this approach can produce dramatic improvements in body composition. It has even been postulated that the timing of nutritional consumption may be more important than the absolute daily intake of nutrients. The post-exercise period is widely considered the most critical part of nutrient timing. Theoretically, consuming the proper ratio of nutrients during this time not only initiates the rebuilding of damaged muscle tissue and restoration of energy reserves, but it does so in a supercompensated fashion that enhances both body composition and exercise performance. Several researchers have made reference to an anabolic “window of opportunity” whereby a limited time exists after training to optimize training-related muscular adaptations. However, the importance - and even the existence - of a post-exercise ‘window’ can vary according to a number of factors. Not only is nutrient timing research open to question in terms of applicability, but recent evidence has directly challenged the classical view of the relevance of post-exercise nutritional intake with respect to anabolism. Therefore, the purpose of this paper will be twofold: 1) to review the existing literature on the effects of nutrient timing with respect to post-exercise muscular adaptations, and; 2) to draw relevant conclusions that allow practical, evidence-based nutritional recommendations to be made for maximizing the anabolic response to exercise.

Concepts: Metabolism, Nutrition, Muscle, Nutrient, Vitamin, Ontology, Muscular system, Existence


Artificial muscles hold promise for safe and powerful actuation for myriad common machines and robots. However, the design, fabrication, and implementation of artificial muscles are often limited by their material costs, operating principle, scalability, and single-degree-of-freedom contractile actuation motions. Here we propose an architecture for fluid-driven origami-inspired artificial muscles. This concept requires only a compressible skeleton, a flexible skin, and a fluid medium. A mechanical model is developed to explain the interaction of the three components. A fabrication method is introduced to rapidly manufacture low-cost artificial muscles using various materials and at multiple scales. The artificial muscles can be programed to achieve multiaxial motions including contraction, bending, and torsion. These motions can be aggregated into systems with multiple degrees of freedom, which are able to produce controllable motions at different rates. Our artificial muscles can be driven by fluids at negative pressures (relative to ambient). This feature makes actuation safer than most other fluidic artificial muscles that operate with positive pressures. Experiments reveal that these muscles can contract over 90% of their initial lengths, generate stresses of ∼600 kPa, and produce peak power densities over 2 kW/kg-all equal to, or in excess of, natural muscle. This architecture for artificial muscles opens the door to rapid design and low-cost fabrication of actuation systems for numerous applications at multiple scales, ranging from miniature medical devices to wearable robotic exoskeletons to large deployable structures for space exploration.

Concepts: Energy, Density, Fluid dynamics, Muscle, Fluid, Robotics, Space exploration, Exoskeleton


The purpose of this review was to determine whether past research provides conclusive evidence about the effects of type and timing of ingestion of specific sources of protein by those engaged in resistance weight training. Two essential, nutrition-related, tenets need to be followed by weightlifters to maximize muscle hypertrophy: the consumption of 1.2-2.0 g -1 of body weight, and >=44-50 of body weight. Researchers have tested the effects of timing of protein supplement ingestion on various physical changes in weightlifters. In general, protein supplementation pre- and post-workout increases physical performance, training session recovery, lean body mass, muscle hypertrophy, and strength. Specific gains, differ however based on protein type and amounts. Studies on timing of consumption of milk have indicated that fat-free milk post-workout was effective in promoting increases in lean body mass, strength, muscle hypertrophy and decreases in body fat. The leucine content of a protein source has an impact on protein synthesis, and affects muscle hypertrophy. Consumption of 3–4 g of leucine is needed to promote maximum protein synthesis. An ideal supplement following resistance exercise should contain whey protein that provides at least 3 g of leucine per serving. A combination of a fast-acting carbohydrate source such as maltodextrin or glucose should be consumed with the protein source, as leucine cannot modulate protein synthesis as effectively without the presence of insulin. Such a supplement post-workout would be most effective in increasing muscle protein synthesis, resulting in greater muscle hypertrophy and strength. In contrast, the consumption of essential amino acids and dextrose appears to be most effective at evoking protein synthesis prior to rather than following resistance exercise. To further enhance muscle hypertrophy and strength, a resistance weight- training program of at least 10–12 weeks with compound movements for both upper and lower body exercises should be followed.

Concepts: Protein, Amino acid, Glucose, Muscle, Physical exercise, Strength training, Exercise physiology, Bodybuilding


Chronic supplementation with creatine monohydrate has been shown to promote increases in total intramuscular creatine, phosphocreatine, skeletal muscle mass, lean body mass and muscle fiber size. Furthermore, there is robust evidence that muscular strength and power will also increase after supplementing with creatine. However, it is not known if the timing of creatine supplementation will affect the adaptive response to exercise. Thus, the purpose of this investigation was to determine the difference between pre versus post exercise supplementation of creatine on measures of body composition and strength.

Concepts: Muscle, Physical exercise, Cardiac muscle, Glycogen, Myosin, Muscular system, Acetylcholine, Exercise physiology


Patients with spinal cord injury lack the connections between brain and spinal cord circuits that are essential for voluntary movement. Clinical systems that achieve muscle contraction through functional electrical stimulation (FES) have proven to be effective in allowing patients with tetraplegia to regain control of hand movements and to achieve a greater measure of independence in daily activities. In existing clinical systems, the patient uses residual proximal limb movements to trigger pre-programmed stimulation that causes the paralysed muscles to contract, allowing use of one or two basic grasps. Instead, we have developed an FES system in primates that is controlled by recordings made from microelectrodes permanently implanted in the brain. We simulated some of the effects of the paralysis caused by C5 or C6 spinal cord injury by injecting rhesus monkeys with a local anaesthetic to block the median and ulnar nerves at the elbow. Then, using recordings from approximately 100 neurons in the motor cortex, we predicted the intended activity of several of the paralysed muscles, and used these predictions to control the intensity of stimulation of the same muscles. This process essentially bypassed the spinal cord, restoring to the monkeys voluntary control of their paralysed muscles. This achievement is a major advance towards similar restoration of hand function in human patients through brain-controlled FES. We anticipate that in human patients, this neuroprosthesis would allow much more flexible and dexterous use of the hand than is possible with existing FES systems.

Concepts: Nervous system, Neuron, Spinal cord, Muscle, Primate, Paralysis, Hand, Ulnar nerve


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


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


Transplantation studies in mice and rats have shown that human embryonic-stem-cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hESC-CMs) can improve the function of infarcted hearts, but two critical issues related to their electrophysiological behaviour in vivo remain unresolved. First, the risk of arrhythmias following hESC-CM transplantation in injured hearts has not been determined. Second, the electromechanical integration of hESC-CMs in injured hearts has not been demonstrated, so it is unclear whether these cells improve contractile function directly through addition of new force-generating units. Here we use a guinea-pig model to show that hESC-CM grafts in injured hearts protect against arrhythmias and can contract synchronously with host muscle. Injured hearts with hESC-CM grafts show improved mechanical function and a significantly reduced incidence of both spontaneous and induced ventricular tachycardia. To assess the activity of hESC-CM grafts in vivo, we transplanted hESC-CMs expressing the genetically encoded calcium sensor, GCaMP3 (refs 4, 5). By correlating the GCaMP3 fluorescent signal with the host ECG, we found that grafts in uninjured hearts have consistent 1:1 host–graft coupling. Grafts in injured hearts are more heterogeneous and typically include both coupled and uncoupled regions. Thus, human myocardial grafts meet physiological criteria for true heart regeneration, providing support for the continued development of hESC-based cardiac therapies for both mechanical and electrical repair.

Concepts: Myocardial infarction, Cardiology, Heart, Muscle, Cardiac muscle, Cardiac electrophysiology, Muscular system, Ventricular fibrillation


Some microbes possess the ability to adaptively manipulate host behavior. To better understand how such microbial parasites control animal behavior, we examine the cell-level interactions between the species-specific fungal parasite Ophiocordyceps unilateralis sensu lato and its carpenter ant host (Camponotus castaneus) at a crucial moment in the parasite’s lifecycle: when the manipulated host fixes itself permanently to a substrate by its mandibles. The fungus is known to secrete tissue-specific metabolites and cause changes in host gene expression as well as atrophy in the mandible muscles of its ant host, but it is unknown how the fungus coordinates these effects to manipulate its host’s behavior. In this study, we combine techniques in serial block-face scanning-electron microscopy and deep-learning-based image segmentation algorithms to visualize the distribution, abundance, and interactions of this fungus inside the body of its manipulated host. Fungal cells were found throughout the host body but not in the brain, implying that behavioral control of the animal body by this microbe occurs peripherally. Additionally, fungal cells invaded host muscle fibers and joined together to form networks that encircled the muscles. These networks may represent a collective foraging behavior of this parasite, which may in turn facilitate host manipulation.

Concepts: Bacteria, Organism, Eukaryote, Fungus, Muscle, Parasitism, Ant, Mutualism


While intermittent hypoxic training (IHT) has been reported to evoke cellular responses via hypoxia inducible factors (HIFs) but without substantial performance benefits in endurance athletes, we hypothesized that repeated sprint training in hypoxia could enhance repeated sprint ability (RSA) performed in normoxia via improved glycolysis and O(2) utilization. 40 trained subjects completed 8 cycling repeated sprint sessions in hypoxia (RSH, 3000 m) or normoxia (RSN, 485 m). Before (Pre-) and after (Post-) training, muscular levels of selected mRNAs were analyzed from resting muscle biopsies and RSA tested until exhaustion (10-s sprint, work-to-rest ratio 1∶2) with muscle perfusion assessed by near-infrared spectroscopy. From Pre- to Post-, the average power output of all sprints in RSA was increased (p<0.01) to the same extent (6% vs 7%, NS) in RSH and in RSN but the number of sprints to exhaustion was increased in RSH (9.4±4.8 vs. 13.0±6.2 sprints, p<0.01) but not in RSN (9.3±4.2 vs. 8.9±3.5). mRNA concentrations of HIF-1α (+55%), carbonic anhydrase III (+35%) and monocarboxylate transporter-4 (+20%) were augmented (p<0.05) whereas mitochondrial transcription factor A (-40%), peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1α (-23%) and monocarboxylate transporter-1 (-36%) were decreased (p<0.01) in RSH only. Besides, the changes in total hemoglobin variations (Δ[tHb]) during sprints throughout RSA test increased to a greater extent (p<0.01) in RSH. Our findings show larger improvement in repeated sprint performance in RSH than in RSN with significant molecular adaptations and larger blood perfusion variations in active muscles.

Concepts: Hemoglobin, Oxygen, Carbon dioxide, Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor, Red blood cell, Muscle, Muscular system, Carbonic anhydrase