Ammonium chloride administration prior to exercise has muscle-specific effects on mitochondrial and myofibrillar protein synthesis in rats

Amanda J. Genders, Evelyn C. Marin, Joseph J. Bass, Jujiao Kuang, Nicholas J. Saner, Ken Smith, Philip J. Atherton, David J. Bishop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Aim: Exercise is able to increase both muscle protein synthesis and mitochondrial biogenesis. However, acidosis, which can occur in pathological states as well as during high-intensity exercise, can decrease mitochondrial function, whilst its impact on muscle protein synthesis is disputed. Thus, the aim of this study was to determine the effect of a mild physiological decrease in pH, by administration of ammonium chloride, on myofibrillar and mitochondrial protein synthesis, as well as associated molecular signaling events. Methods: Male Wistar rats were given either a placebo or ammonium chloride prior to a short interval training session. Rats were killed before exercise, immediately after exercise, or 3 h after exercise. Results: Myofibrillar (p = 0.036) fractional protein synthesis rates was increased immediately after exercise in the soleus muscle of the placebo group, but this effect was absent in the ammonium chloride group. However, in the gastrocnemius muscle NH4Cl increased myofibrillar (p = 0.044) and mitochondrial protein synthesis (0 h after exercise p = 0.01; 3 h after exercise p = 0.003). This was accompanied by some small differences in protein phosphorylation and mRNA expression. Conclusion: This study found ammonium chloride administration immediately prior to a single session of exercise in rats had differing effects on mitochondrial and myofibrillar protein synthesis rates in soleus (type I) and gastrocnemius (type II) muscle in rats.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere14797
Number of pages14
JournalPhysiological Reports
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • acidosis
  • exercise
  • mitochondria
  • protein synthesis
  • skeletal muscle

Cite this