We have developed a direct method for the measurement of human musculoskeletal collagen synthesis on the basis of the incorporation of stable isotope-labeled proline or leucine into protein and have used it to measure the rate of synthesis of collagen in tendon, ligament, muscle, and skin. In postabsorptive, healthy young men (28 ± 6 yr) synthetic rates for tendon, ligament, muscle, and skin collagen were 0.046 ± 0.005, 0.040 ± 0.006, 0.016 ± 0.002, and 0.037 ± 0.003%/h, respectively (means ± SD). In postabsorptive, healthy elderly men (70 ± 6 yr) the rate of skeletal muscle collagen synthesis is greater than in the young (0.023 ± 0.002%/h, P < 0.05 vs. young). The rates of synthesis of tendon and ligament collagen are similar to those of mixed skeletal muscle protein in the postabsorptive state, whereas the rate for muscle collagen synthesis is much lower in both young and elderly men. After nutrient provision, collagen synthesis was unaltered in tendon and skeletal muscle, remaining at postabsorptive values (young: tendon, 0.045 ± 0.008%/h; muscle, 0.016 ± 0.003%/h; elderly: muscle, 0.024 ± 0.003%/h). These results demonstrate that the rate of human musculoskeletal tissue collagen synthesis can be directly and robustly measured using stable isotope methodology.
- Stable-isotope tracers
- Musculoskeletal collagen synthesis