High-intensity exercise leads to reductions in muscle substrates (ATP, PCr, and glycogen) and a subsequent accumulation of metabolites (ADP, Pi, H+, and Mg2+) with a possible increase in free radical production. These factors independently and collectively have deleterious effects on muscle, with significant repercussions on high-intensity performance or training sessions. The effect of carnosine on overcoming muscle fatigue appears to be related to its ability to buffer the increased H+ concentration following high-intensity work. Carnosine, however, has other roles such as an antioxidant, a metal chelator, a Ca2+ and enzyme regulator, an inhibitor of protein glycosylation and protein-protein cross-linking. To date, only 1 study has investigated the effects of carnosine supplementation (not in pure form) on exercise performance in human subjects and found no improvement in repetitive high-intensity work. Much data has come from in vitro work on animal skeletal muscle fibers or other components of muscle contractile mechanisms. Thus further research needs to be carried out on humans to provide additional understanding on the effects of carnosine in vivo.
Gulshanara Begum, Adam Cunliffe and Michael Leveritt
Weiliang Chung, Audrey Baguet, Tine Bex, David J. Bishop and Wim Derave
Muscle carnosine loading through chronic oral beta-alanine supplementation has been shown to be effective for short-duration, high-intensity exercise. This randomized, placebo-controlled study explored whether the ergogenic effect of beta-alanine supplementation is also present for longer duration exercise. Subjects (27 well-trained cyclists/triathletes) were supplemented with either beta-alanine or placebo (6.4 g/day) for 6 weeks. Time to completion and physiological variables for a 1-hr cycling time-trial were compared between preand postsupplementation. Muscle carnosine concentration was also assessed via proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy before and after supplementation. Following beta-alanine supplementation, muscle carnosine concentration was increased by 143 ± 151% (mean ± SD; p < .001) in the gastrocnemius and 161 ± 56% (p < .001) in the soleus. Postsupplementation time trial performance was significantly slower in the placebo group (60.6 ± 4.4–63.0 ± 5.4 min; p < .01) and trended toward a slower performance following beta-alanine supplementation (59.8 ± 2.8–61.7 ± 3.0 min; p = .069). We found an increase in lactate/proton concentration ratio following beta-alanine supplementation during the time-trial (209.0 ± 44.0 (beta-alanine) vs. 161.9 ± 54.4 (placebo); p < .05), indicating that a similar lactate concentration was accompanied by a lower degree of systemic acidosis, even though this acidosis was quite moderate (pH ranging from 7.30 to 7.40). In conclusion, chronic beta-alanine supplementation in well-trained cyclists had a very pronounced effect on muscle carnosine concentration and a moderate attenuating effect on the acidosis associated with lactate accumulation, yet without affecting 1-h time-trial performance under laboratory conditions.
Pietro Luigi Invernizzi, Eloisa Limonta, Andrea Riboli, Andrea Bosio, Raffaele Scurati and Fabio Esposito
To assess the effects of acute combined L-carnosine and β-alanine (Carn-BA) supplementation on isometric and dynamic tasks.
Twelve healthy participants performed knee-extensor maximal voluntary contractions (MVCs) and countermovement jumps (CMJs) before and after a fatiguing protocol (45-s continuous CMJs). Isometric and dynamic tests were performed 4 h after ingestion of Carn-BA (2 g of L-carnosine and 2 g of β-alanine) or placebo (PLA), in random order. After the fatiguing protocol, blood lactate concentration ([La−]), general and muscular rating of perceived exertion (RPE), and muscle pain (24 and 48 h after the end of the fatiguing protocol) were assessed.
During the fatiguing protocol, significant decreases in jump height and increases in contact time were found in both groups from the 15th second onward to the end of the fatiguing protocol. Average contact time and jump height were respectively lower (−7%; P = .018) and higher (+6%; P = .025) in Carn-BA than in PLA. After the fatiguing protocol, MVC decreased in both PLA and Carn-BA, but it was higher in Carn-BA than in PLA (+15%, P = 0.012), while CMJ did not change. Moreover, general RPE was lower and muscle pain at 24 h was higher in Carn-BA than in PLA, whereas muscle RPE and [La−] did not differ between conditions.
Ingesting Carn-BA before exercise induced positive effects on MVC and CMJ after the fatiguing protocol and improved CMJ performance during the 45-s continuous jumping effort, even when acutely supplemented. Furthermore, Carn-BA reduced the general RPE and increased muscle pain 24 h after the fatiguing task.
João Paulo Limongi França Guilherme and Antonio Herbert Lancha Jr.
Carnosine (β-alanyl-L-histidine), abundantly found in skeletal muscle, plays an important role during exercise, especially for high-intensity contractions. Variability in muscle carnosine content between individuals exists and may also be explained by different genetic bases, although no study has addressed the association of polymorphisms in genes related to carnosine metabolism in athletes. This study aimed to investigate the frequency of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the carnosinase genes (CNDP1 and CNDP2) in a large Brazilian cohort of athletes and nonathletes. Eight SNPs were compared between a representative cohort of elite athletes from Brazil (n = 908) and a paired group of nonathletes (n = 967). The athletes were stratified into three groups: endurance (n = 328), power (n = 415), and combat (n = 165). The CNDP2 rs6566810 (A/A genotype) is overrepresented in endurance athletes, but only in international-level endurance athletes. Three SNPs (CNDP2 rs3764509, CNDP2-CNDP1 rs2346061, and CNDP1 rs2887) were overrepresented in power athletes compared with nonathletes. Carriers of the minor allele had an increased odds ratio of being a power athlete. For the rs2346061, no significant difference was observed in genotype frequencies between power and combat sports athletes, but for rs2887 the power and combat groups showed an inverse genotype distribution. In conclusion, we found that minor alleles carriers for CNDP2 rs3764509 (G-allele), CNDP2-CNDP1 rs2346061 (C-allele), and CNDP1 rs2887 (A-allele) are more likely to be a power athlete. These polymorphisms may be novel genetic markers for power athletes. Furthermore, these results are suggestive of a distinct CNDP genotype for sporting development.
Blake D. McLean, David Buttifant, Christopher J. Gore, Kevin White, Carsten Liess and Justin Kemp
Little research has been done on the physiological and performance effects of altitude training on team-sport athletes. Therefore, this study examined changes in 2000-m time-trial running performance (TT), hemoglobin mass (Hbmass), and intramuscular carnosine content of elite Australian Football (AF) players after a preseason altitude camp.
Thirty elite AF players completed 19 days of living and training at either moderate altitude (~2130 m; ALT, n = 21) or sea level (CON, n = 9). TT performance and Hbmass were assessed preintervention (PRE) and postintervention (POST1) in both groups and at 4 wk after returning to sea level (POST2) in ALT only.
Improvement in TT performance after altitude was likely 1.5% (± 4.8–90%CL) greater in ALT than in CON, with an individual responsiveness of 0.8%. Improvements in TT were maintained at POST2 in ALT. Hbmass after altitude was very likely increased in ALT compared with CON (2.8% ± 3.5%), with an individual responsiveness of 1.3%. Hbmass returned to baseline at POST2. Intramuscular carnosine did not change in either gastrocnemius or soleus from PRE to POST1.
A preseason altitude camp improved TT performance and Hbmass in elite AF players to a magnitude similar to that demonstrated by elite endurance athletes undertaking altitude training. The individual responsiveness of both TT and Hbmass was approximately half the group mean effect, indicating that most players gained benefit. The maintenance of running performance for 4 wk, despite Hbmass returning to baseline, suggests that altitude training is a valuable preparation for AF players leading into the competitive season.
William J. Kraemer, Scott E. Gordon, James M. Lynch, Mariana E.M.V. Pop and Kristine L. Clark
The purpose of this investigation was to determine the effects of a 3.5-day dietary multibuffer supplement (containing predominantly inorganic phosphate, or Pj, along with bicarbonate and carnosine, i.e., PhosFuel™) on repetitive (four trials separated by 2 min rest) Wingate test (WT) performances and whole blood 2,3-diphosphoglycerate (2,3-DPG) concentrations in 10 recreationally trained road cyclists (T) and 10 normally active but untrained (UT) men. A 2-week washout period was utilized between experimental sessions. Venous blood samples were obtained via cannula once before exercise (baseline), immediately post each WT, and 3 min after the final WT (recovery). The data indicate that this supplement does not affect acid-base status with following intense anaerobic exercise and does not improve repetitive WT performance. However, the supplement does enhance post-exercise levels of 2,3-DPG and the 2,3-DPG/Hb ratio in recreationally trained cyclists while improving acute recovery of peak power in these men.
Takaaki Mishima, Takashi Yamada, Makoto Sakamoto, Minako Sugiyama, Satoshi Matsunaga, Hirohiko Maemura, Muneshige Shimizu, Yoshihisa Takahata, Fumiki Morimatsu and Masanobu Wada
This study was conducted to determine whether dietary chicken-breast extract (CBEX), a rich source of histidine-containing dipeptides, could modify exerciseinduced changes in sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) function. After 5 weeks of dietary CBEX, SR Ca2+-handling ability was examined in the vastus lateralis muscles of rats subjected to high-intensity running for 2.5 min. Dietary CBEX caused an approximately 15% and 45% increase (p < .01) in muscle carnosine and anserine concentrations, respectively. In resting muscles, depressions in SR Ca2+–ATPase activity were evoked by dietary CBEX without concomitant changes in SR Ca2+ uptake and release rates. The data confirm that high-intensity exercise depresses SR Ca2+ handling. In spite of the same run time, SR Ca2+ handling was reduced to a lesser degree in muscles of CBEX-containing-chow-fed rats than in standard-chow-fed rats (p < .05). These results suggest that dietary CBEX might attenuate deteriorations in SR Ca2+-handling ability that occur with high-intensity exercise.
Andrew J.R. Cochran, Michael E. Percival, Sara Thompson, Jenna B. Gillen, Martin J. MacInnis, Murray A. Potter, Mark A. Tarnopolsky and Martin J. Gibala
Sprint interval training (SIT), repeated bouts of high-intensity exercise, improves skeletal muscle oxidative capacity and exercise performance. β-alanine (β-ALA) supplementation has been shown to enhance exercise performance, which led us to hypothesize that chronic β-ALA supplementation would augment work capacity during SIT and augment training-induced adaptations in skeletal muscle and performance. Twenty-four active but untrained men (23 ± 2 yr; VO2peak = 50 ± 6 mL·kg−1·min−1) ingested 3.2 g/day of β-ALA or a placebo (PLA) for a total of 10 weeks (n = 12 per group). Following 4 weeks of baseline supplementation, participants completed a 6-week SIT intervention. Each of 3 weekly sessions consisted of 4–6 Wingate tests, i.e., 30-s bouts of maximal cycling, interspersed with 4 min of recovery. Before and after the 6-week SIT program, participants completed a 250-kJ time trial and a repeated sprint test. Biopsies (v. lateralis) revealed that skeletal muscle carnosine content increased by 33% and 52%, respectively, after 4 and 10 weeks of β-ALA supplementation, but was unchanged in PLA. Total work performed during each training session was similar across treatments. SIT increased markers of mitochondrial content, including cytochome c oxidase (40%) and β-hydroxyacyl-CoA dehydrogenase maximal activities (19%), as well as VO2peak (9%), repeated-sprint capacity (5%), and 250-kJ time trial performance (13%), but there were no differences between treatments for any measure (p < .01, main effects for time; p > .05, interaction effects). The training stimulus may have overwhelmed any potential influence of β-ALA, or the supplementation protocol was insufficient to alter the variables to a detectable extent.
Gabriel Motta Pinheiro Brisola, Elvis de Souza Malta, Paulo Roberto Pereira Santiago, Luiz Henrique Palucci Vieira and Alessandro Moura Zagatto
carnosine synthesis, 11 a cytoplasmic dipeptide whose main function is as an intramuscular acid buffer, 11 and can also act as a local “pump,” by exchanging Ca 2+ for H + . 12 , 13 Despite the beneficial effects of β-alanine supplementation on isolated efforts related to water polo, 8 – 10 no studies
Tim Donovan, Tim Ballam, James P. Morton and Graeme L. Close
The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that β-alanine supplementation improves punch power and frequency in amateur boxers during a simulated contest. Sixteen amateur boxers (each approximately 6 yr experience) were assigned to β-alanine (n = 8; 1.5 g 4 times/d for 4 wk) or placebo supplementation (n = 8) after initially being assessed for baseline punch performance. Before and after the supplementation period, all boxers completed a simulated contest consisting of 3 × 3-min rounds (interspersed with 60-s rests) on a punching bag (with a force transducer attached). Each round involved performing 2 min 50 s standardized punching (standardized jab, cross combination) based on notation analysis, whereas the last 10 s involved maximal-output punching (standardized jab, cross combination), during which time punch force and frequency were recorded. Postcontest blood lactate was significantly increased in the β-alanine group (presupplementation 9.5 ± 0.9 mmol/L, postsupplementation 12.6 ± 0.5 mmol/L, p < .05), whereas the placebo group showed no change (presupplementation 8 ± 2.8 mmol/L, postsupplementation 7.0 ± 2.7 mmol/L; p > .05). During the 10-s maximal-output punching, changes in mean punch force (β-alanine 20 ± 1.01 kg, placebo 1 ± 1 kg) and punch frequency (β-alanine 5 ± 4, placebo –2 ± 3) were greater (p < .05) in the β-alanine-supplemented group. The authors conclude that β-alanine supplementation improves punching performance in amateur boxers and suggest that this supplementation protocol may also prove ergogenic for other combat-related sports.