The Physiological Mechanisms of Effect of Vitamins and Amino Acids on Tendon and Muscle Healing: A Systematic Review

in International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism
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Aims/Objectives: To evaluate the current literature via systematic review to ascertain whether amino acids/vitamins provide any influence on musculotendinous healing and if so, by which physiological mechanisms. Methods: EBSCO, PubMed, ScienceDirect, Embase Classic/Embase, and MEDLINE were searched using terms including “vitamins,” “amino acids,” “healing,” “muscle,” and “tendon.” The primary search had 479 citations, of which 466 were excluded predominantly due to nonrandomized design. Randomized human and animal studies investigating all supplement types/forms of administration were included. Critical appraisal of internal validity was assessed using the Cochrane risk of Bias Tool or the Systematic Review Centre for Laboratory Animal Experimentation Risk of Bias Tool for human and animal studies, respectively. Two reviewers performed duel data extraction. Results: Twelve studies met criteria for inclusion: eight examined tendon healing and four examined muscle healing. All studies used animal models, except two human trials using a combined integrator. Narrative synthesis was performed via content analysis of demonstrated statistically significant effects and thematic analysis of proposed physiological mechanisms of intervention. Vitamin C/taurine demonstrated indirect effects on tendon healing through antioxidant activity. Vitamin A/glycine showed direct effects on extracellular matrix tissue synthesis. Vitamin E shows an antiproliferative influence on collagen deposition. Leucine directly influences signaling pathways to promote muscle protein synthesis. Discussion: Preliminary evidence exists, demonstrating that vitamins and amino acids may facilitate multilevel changes in musculotendinous healing; however, recommendations on clinical utility should be made with caution. All animal studies and one human study showed high risk of bias with moderate interobserver agreement (k = 0.46). Currently, there is limited evidence to support the use of vitamins and amino acids for musculotendinous injury. Both high-quality animal experimentation of the proposed mechanisms confirming the physiological influence of supplementation and human studies evaluating effects on tissue morphology and biochemistry are required before practical application.

Tack and Kass are with the School of Life and Medical Sciences, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom. Tack and Shorthouse are with Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, Physiotherapy, Guy’s Hospital, Great Maze Pond, London, United Kingdom.

Address author correspondence to Christopher Tack at Christopher.tack@gstt.nhs.uk.
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