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THE JOURNAL OF SPORTS MEDICINE AND PHYSICAL FITNESS

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The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2008 September;48(3):347-51

language: English

Branched-chain amino acid supplementation does not enhance athletic performance but affects muscle recovery and the immune system

Negro M., Giardina S., Marzani B., Marzatico F.

Pharmacobiochemistry Laboratory Section of Pharmacology and Pharmacological Biotechnology Department of Cellular and Molecular, Physiological and Pharmacological Sciences University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy


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Since the 1980’s there has been high interest in branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) by sports nutrition scientists. The metabolism of BCAA is involved in some specific biochemical muscle processes and many studies have been carried out to understand whether sports performance can be enhanced by a BCAA supplementation. However, many of these researches have failed to confirm this hypothesis. Thus, in recent years investigators have changed their research target and focused on the effects of BCAA on the muscle protein matrix and the immune system. Data show that BCAA supplementation before and after exercise has beneficial effects for decreasing exercise-induced muscle damage and promoting muscle-protein synthesis. Muscle damage develops delayed onset muscle soreness: a syndrome that occurs 24-48 h after intensive physical activity that can inhibit athletic performance. Other recent works indicate that BCAA supplementation recovers peripheral blood mononuclear cell proliferation in response to mitogens after a long distance intense exercise, as well as plasma glutamine concentration. The BCAA also modifies the pattern of exercise-related cytokine production, leading to a diversion of the lymphocyte immune response towards a Th1 type. According to these findings, it is possible to consider the BCAA as a useful supplement for muscle recovery and immune regulation for sports events.

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