The branched chain amino acid leucine is a potent stimulator of insulin secretion. Used in combination with glucose it can increase the insulin response and the post exercise re-synthesis of glycogen in man. Decreased plasma amino acid concentrations have been reported after intravenous or per oral administration of leucine in man as well as after a single per oral dose in horses. In man, a negative correlation between the insulin response and the concentrations of isoleucine, valine and methionine have been shown but results from horses are lacking. This study aims to determine the effect of repeated per oral administration with a mixture of glucose and leucine on the free amino acid profile and the insulin response in horses after glycogen-depleting exercise.
In a crossover design, after a glycogen depleting exercise, twelve Standardbred trotters received either repeated oral boluses of glucose, 1 g/kg body weight (BW) at 0, 2 and 4 h with addition of leucine 0.1 g/kg BW at 0 and 4 h (GLU+LEU), or repeated boluses of water at 0, 2 and 4 h (CON). Blood samples for analysis of glucose, insulin and amino acid concentrations were collected prior to exercise and over a 6 h post-exercise period. A mixed model approach was used for the statistical analyses.
Plasma leucine, isoleucine, valine, tyrosine and phenylalanine concentrations increased after exercise. Post-exercise serum glucose and plasma insulin response were significantly higher in the GLU+LEU treatment compared to the CON treatment. Plasma leucine concentrations increased after supplementation. During the post-exercise period isoleucine, valine and methionine concentrations decreased in both treatments but were significantly lower in the GLU+LEU treatment. There was no correlation between the insulin response and the response in plasma leucine, isoleucine, valine and methionine.
Repeated post-exercise administration with a mixture of leucine and glucose caused a marked insulin response and altered the plasma amino acid profile in horses in a similar manner as described in man. However, the decreases seen in plasma amino acids in horses seem to be related more to an effect of leucine and not to the insulin response as seen in man.
Keywords: horse, exercise, amino acid, leucine, glucose, insulin