The Deleterious Effects of Bed Rest on Human Skeletal Muscle Fibers Are Exacerbated by Hypercortisolemia and Ameliorated by Dietary Supplementation

Document Type




Format of Original

8 p.

Publication Date



American Physiological Society

Source Publication

American Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology

Source ISSN



Prolonged inactivity associated with bed rest in a clinical setting or spaceflight is frequently associated with hypercortisolemia and inadequate caloric intake. Here, we determined the effect of 28 days of bed rest (BR); bed rest plus hypercortisolemia (BRHC); and bed rest plus essential amino acid (AA) and carbohydrate (CHO) supplement (BRAA) on the size and function of single slow- and fast-twitch muscle fibers. Supplementing meals, the BRAA group consumed 16.5 g essential amino acids and 30 g sucrose at 1100, 1600, and 2100 h, and the BRHC subjects received 5 daily doses of 10–15 mg of oral hydrocortisone sodium succinate throughout bed rest. Bed rest induced atrophy and loss of force (mN) and power (µN • FL • s-1) in single fibers was exacerbated by hypercortisolemia where soleus peak force declined by 23% in the type I fiber from a prevalue of 0.78 +/- 0.02 to 0.60 +/- 0.02 mN post bed rest (compared to a 7% decline with bed rest alone) and 27% in the type II fiber (1.10 +/- 0.08 vs. 0.81 +/- 0.05 mN). In the BRHC group, peak power dropped by 19, 15, and 11% in the soleus type I, and vastus lateralis (VL) type I and II fibers, respectively. The AA/CHO supplement protected against the bed rest-induced loss of peak force in the type I soleus and peak power in the VL type II fibers. These results provide evidence that an AA/CHO supplement might serve as a successful countermeasure to help preserve muscle function during periods of relative inactivity.


American Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology, Volume 293, (2007): C313-C320. DOI.