Researchers from the United States and the United Kingdom collaborated on a project that examined the effects of fish oil supplementation on muscle protein synthesis and anabolic signaling in older men and women.
Subjects were randomized into a control group that received corn oil, or a fish oil group that took 4g of fish oil per day.
Supplements were taken for eight weeks. Before and after the supplementation period, rates of muscle protein synthesis were tested in response to an infusion of amino acids and insulin.
After 8 weeks of supplementation, the fish oil group showed a marked increase in the omega-3 fatty acids found in muscle samples, whereas there was no change in the corn oil group. The fish oil group also showed a two-fold greater increase in muscle protein synthesis in response to the amino acid infusion. Fish oil supplementation also resulted in greater expression of anabolic signaling proteins in muscle.
This is the first study to show a link between fish oil supplementation and anabolic signaling in muscle. These results show that increasing the muscle phospholipid content of omega-3 fatty acids by supplementing with fish oil in older subjects results in improved protein synthesis in response to amino acids.