The application of 2H2O to measure skeletal muscle protein synthesis. Academic Article uri icon


  • Skeletal muscle protein synthesis has generally been determined by the precursor:product labeling approach using labeled amino acids (e.g., [13C]leucine or [13C]-, [15N]-, or [2H]phenylalanine) as the tracers. Although reliable for determining rates of protein synthesis, this methodological approach requires experiments to be conducted in a controlled environment, and as a result, has limited our understanding of muscle protein renewal under free-living conditions over extended periods of time (i.e., integrative/cumulative assessments). An alternative tracer, 2H2O, has been successfully used to measure rates of muscle protein synthesis in mice, rats, fish and humans. Moreover, perturbations such as feeding and exercise have been included in these measurements without exclusion of common environmental and biological factors. In this review, we discuss the principle behind using 2H2O to measure muscle protein synthesis and highlight recent investigations that have examined the effects of feeding and exercise. The framework provided in this review should assist muscle biologists in designing experiments that advance our understanding of conditions in which anabolism is altered (e.g., exercise, feeding, growth, debilitating and metabolic pathologies).

published proceedings

  • Nutr Metab (Lond)

author list (cited authors)

  • Gasier, H. G., Fluckey, J. D., & Previs, S. F.

citation count

  • 64

complete list of authors

  • Gasier, Heath G||Fluckey, James D||Previs, Stephen F

publication date

  • April 2010