Amino Acids

, Volume 46, Issue 11, pp 2503–2516 | Cite as

Whey protein supplementation accelerates satellite cell proliferation during recovery from eccentric exercise

  • Jean FarupEmail author
  • Stine Klejs Rahbek
  • Inge Skovgaard Knudsen
  • Frank de Paoli
  • Abigail L. Mackey
  • Kristian Vissing
Original Article


Human skeletal muscle satellite cells (SCs) are essential for muscle regeneration and remodeling processes in healthy and clinical conditions involving muscle breakdown. However, the potential influence of protein supplementation on post-exercise SC regulation in human skeletal muscle has not been well investigated. In a comparative human study, we investigated the effect of hydrolyzed whey protein supplementation following eccentric exercise on fiber type-specific SC accumulation. Twenty-four young healthy subjects received either hydrolyzed whey protein + carbohydrate (whey, n = 12) or iso-caloric carbohydrate (placebo, n = 12) during post-exercise recovery from 150 maximal unilateral eccentric contractions. Prior to and 24, 48 and 168 h post-exercise, muscle biopsies were obtained from the exercise leg and analyzed for fiber type-specific SC content. Maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) and serum creatine kinase (CK) were evaluated as indices of recovery from muscle damage. In type II fiber-associated SCs, the whey group increased SCs/fiber from 0.05 [0.02; 0.07] to 0.09 [0.06; 0.12] (p < 0.05) and 0.11 [0.06; 0.16] (p < 0.001) at 24 and 48 h, respectively, and exhibited a difference from the placebo group (p < 0.05) at 48 h. The whey group increased SCs/myonuclei from 4 % [2; 5] to 10 % [4; 16] (p < 0.05) at 48 h, whereas the placebo group increased from 5 % [2; 7] to 9 % [3; 16] (p < 0.01) at 168 h. MVC decreased (p < 0.001) and muscle soreness and CK increased (p < 0.001), irrespective of supplementation. In conclusion, whey protein supplementation may accelerate SC proliferation as part of the regeneration or remodeling process after high-intensity eccentric exercise.


Branched chain amino acids Whey protein Satellite cell Pax7 Eccentric exercise 



We thank the participants for their participation in the project. Department of Rheumatology, Aarhus University Hospital, is thanked for supplying apparatus for blood sampling. Janni Moesgaard Jensen and Gitte Kaiser Hartvigsen are thanked for assistance in collecting blood samples and during biopsy preparation. The F1.652 and the A4.591 monoclonal antibodies developed by Helen M. Blau were obtained from the Developmental Studies Hybridoma Bank under the auspices of the NICHD and maintained by The University of Iowa, Department of Biological Sciences, Iowa City, IA, USA.

Conflict of interest

The study was funded by Arla Foods Ingredients Group P/S, DK and Nordea Foundation (Healthy Ageing grant). The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jean Farup
    • 1
    Email author
  • Stine Klejs Rahbek
    • 1
  • Inge Skovgaard Knudsen
    • 1
  • Frank de Paoli
    • 2
    • 3
  • Abigail L. Mackey
    • 4
    • 5
  • Kristian Vissing
    • 1
  1. 1.Section of Sport Science, Department of Public HealthAarhus UniversityAarhusDenmark
  2. 2.Department of BiomedicineAarhus UniversityAarhusDenmark
  3. 3.Department of RheumatologyAarhus University HospitalAarhusDenmark
  4. 4.Department of Orthopaedic Surgery M, Institute of Sports Medicine, Bispebjerg HospitalUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark
  5. 5.Department of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Centre for Healthy AgeingUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark

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