Effect of supplementation with a cysteine donor on muscular performance

Effect of supplementation with a cysteine donor on muscular performance

Oxidative stress contributes to muscular fatigue. GSH is the major intracellular antioxidant, the biosynthesis of which is dependent on cysteine availability. We hypothesized that supplementation with a whey-based cysteine donor [Immunocal (HMS90)] designed to augment intracellular GSH would enhance performance. Twenty healthy young adults (10 men, 10 women) were studied presupplementation and 3 mo postsupplementation with either Immunocal (20 g/day) or casein placebo. Muscular performance was assessed by whole leg isokinetic cycle testing, measuring peak power and 30-s work capacity. Lymphocyte GSH was used as a marker of tissue GSH. There were no baseline differences (age, ht, wt, %ideal wt, peak power, 30-s work capacity). Follow-up data on 18 subjects (9 Immunocal, 9 placebo) were analyzed. Both peak power [13 ± 3.5 (SE) %,P < 0.02] and 30-s work capacity (13 ± 3.7%, P < 0.03) increased significantly in the Immunocal group, with no change (2 ± 9.0 and 1 ± 9.3%) in the placebo group. Lymphocyte GSH also increased significantly in the Immunocal group (35.5 ± 11.04%,P < 0.02), with no change in the placebo group (−0.9 ± 9.6%). This is the first study to demonstrate that prolonged supplementation with a product designed to augment antioxidant defenses resulted in improved volitional performance.

Note that this was done with whey protein; also note that no exercise training was involved – the subjects developed more power from whey protein alone. N-acetylcysteine is also a cysteine donor and one may speculate that the results from that might be as good.

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