Muscle protein synthesis by positron-emission tomography with L-[methyl- 11C]methionine in adult humans
Existing methods for assessing protein synthetic rates (PSRs) in human skeletal muscle are invasive and do not readily provide information about individual muscle groups. Recent studies in canine skeletal muscle yielded PSRs similar to results of simultaneous stable isotope measurements using L-[1-13C, methyl-2H3]methionine, suggesting that positron-emission tomography (PET) with L-[methyl-11C]methionine could be used along with blood sampling and a kinetic model to provide a less invasive, regional assessment of PSR. We have extended and refined this method in an investigation with healthy volunteers studied in the postabsorptive state. They received approximately 25 mCi of L-[methyl-11C]methionine with serial PET imaging of the thighs and arterial blood sampling for a period of 90 min. Tissue and metabolite-corrected arterial blood time activity curves were fitted to a three-compartment model. PSR (nmol methionine.min-1.g muscle tissue-1) was calculated from the fitted parameter values and the plasma methionine concentrations, assuming equal rates of protein synthesis and degradation. Pooled mean PSR for the anterior and posterior sites was 0.50 +/- 0.040. When converted to a fractional synthesis rate for mixed proteins in muscle, assuming a protein-bound methionine content of muscle tissue, the value of 0.125 +/- 0.01%.h-1 compares well with estimates from direct tracer incorporation studies, which generally range from approximately 0.05 to 0.09%.h-1. We conclude that PET can be used to estimate skeletal muscle PSR in healthy human subjects and that it holds promise for future in vivo, noninvasive studies of the influences of physiological factors, pharmacological manipulations, and disease states on this important component of muscle protein turnover and balance.