In muscular dystrophy there is an imbalance between muscle protein synthesis and protein degradation, resulting in net muscle catabolism and progressive muscle weakness and wasting. Both insulin and insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) are known to have an anabolic effect on skeletal muscle, which is believed to be enhanced in the presence of elevated concentrations of amino acids. We examined the effects of 4-week administration of recombinant human IGF-I (rhIGF-I), both alone and supplemented with a high protein diet (HPD), on muscle metabolism, morphology, and function in the 129 ReJ dystrophic mouse. rhIGF-I significantly reduced muscle protein degradation (P < 0.001), increased muscle protein content (P < 0.05), decreased fiber area variability (P < 0.01), and increased hind limb utilization (P < 0.01). Supplementation of rhIGF-I therapy with a HPD resulted in a significant increase in muscle protein synthesis (P < 0.05) in addition to a further increase in the above parameters. We conclude that rhIGF-I causes an improvement in muscle metabolism, morphology, and function in dystrophic mice, and this effect is further enhanced by the presence of a HPD.
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