Alaska Backcountry Expeditionary Hunting Promotes Sustained Muscle Protein Synthesis

Robert H. Coker, Brent C. Ruby, Melynda S. Coker, Larry Bartlett, Brandon Kowalski, Anna V. Goropashnaya, Terry Bateman, Mahalakshmi Shankaran, Marc Hellerstein, William J. Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: We have previously described negative energy balance (ie, −9.7±3.4 MJ/d) and weight loss (Δ−1.5 ± 0.7 kg) influenced by high levels of energy expenditure (ie, 17.4±2.6 MJ/d) during remote expeditionary hunting in Alaska. Despite negative energy balance, participants retained skeletal muscle. The purpose of this pilot study was to measure skeletal muscle protein synthesis and examine molecular markers of skeletal muscle protein metabolism under similar conditions of physical and nutrient stress. Methods: The “virtual biopsy method” was used to evaluate integrated fractional synthetic rates (FSRs) of muscle protein from blood samples in 4 participants. Muscle biopsies were taken to measure molecular markers of muscle protein kinetics (ie, FSTL1, MEF2, MYOD1, B2M, and miR-1-3p, -206, -208b, 23a, and 499a) using real-time polymerase chain reaction. Results: Our findings in 4 participants (2 females [28 and 62 y of age; 66.2 and 71.8 kg body weight; 25.5 and 26.7 kg/m2 body mass index] and 2 males [47 and 56 y of age; 87.5 and 91.4 kg body weight; 26.1 and 28.3 kg/m2 body mass index]) describe mean muscle FSRs of serum carbonic anhydrase (2.4%) and creatine kinase M-type (4.0%) and positive increments in molecular regulation. Conclusions: Preservation of skeletal muscle under conditions of physical and nutrient stress seems to be supported by positive inflection of skeletal muscle FSR and molecular activation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-345
Number of pages5
JournalWilderness and Environmental Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2023


  • caloric balance
  • energy expenditure
  • musculoskeletal
  • physical activity
  • Muscle Proteins/metabolism
  • Hunting
  • Body Weight
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Follistatin-Related Proteins/metabolism
  • Pilot Projects
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Female
  • Alaska
  • Muscle, Skeletal


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