- The amounts needed to support growth of optimal composition and function with emphasis on the skeletal musculature. The target of this work is the perinatal period when the tissue is growing at a rate that is more rapid than at any other time in life, whilst also undergoing functional maturation. Our goal is to understand the unique properties of the immature muscle that underlie the high efficiency with which it can use dietary amino acids for growth.
- The short and long-term consequences of inadequate protein and amino acid intake on growth and functional development of skeletal muscle and the heart.
We use animal models to advance our understanding of the various mechanisms that regulate muscle growth during maturation and how these are altered by the intake of protein and specific amino acids. This information is essential for understanding the presence of critical windows of development during which poor nutrition permanently reprograms muscle growth to a lower growth trajectory. This results in a lifetime deficit in muscle mass, altered metabolism, and compromised cardiac function with limited exercise capacity. The knowledge we gain from this research also can be usefully applied to evaluate the potential role of dietary protein and amino acids in the pathophysiology of muscle diseases. Our goal is to use the knowledge we generate to inform the development of strategies that will mitigate these detrimental long-term effects.