Definition: "An ergogenic aid is any substance or phenomenon that enhances performance "

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ATP-supplementation makes muscle cells thriftier with energy

ATP-supplementation makes muscle cells thriftier with energy
All sports scientists and nearly all strength athletes are familiar with adenosine triphosphate or ATP [structural formula shown here] and regard it as the energy source that muscle fibres turn to when they contract intensively. It's less well known that you can also use ATP as a supplement. Researchers at the University of Louisville will soon publish in the Journal of Surgical Research a study that suggests that ATP supplementation may indeed be effective.

ATP is not unknown in doping circles, and the supplements industry assessed the potential of ATP after researchers showed that oral administration of ATP boosted the maximal strength of strength athletes, enabling them to do more reps per set.

But exactly how ATP is capable of helping strength athletes is not known. All that scientists know is that orally administered ATP does not make its way to muscle cells. The research done at the University of Louisville may shed some light on the matter, even though it had nothing to do with strength sports. The researchers were looking for better ways of storing limbs destined for transplants, where muscle tissue needs to be kept in good condition for long periods of time.

When muscles or other tissues are cut off from their blood supply, the ATP concentration in the cells goes down. If the concentration dips below a certain level the cells start to die off. Cells try to maintain the ATP concentration as long as they can, and first go through their glycogen supply and phosphocreatine before starting on the ATP.

So maybe adding ATP to the fluid in which the tissues are stored can extend tissue quality, the researchers reasoned. To test their theory they did an experiment with muscle tissue from rats.

The figure below shows that the concentration of phosphocreatine [black circles] declined rapidly when the researchers used ordinary preserving fluid. Ultimately the concentration of ATP also went down [white circles]. The concentration of inorganic phosphate [white squares] increased rapidly.

ATP-supplementation makes muscle cells thriftier with energy

Addition of ATP to the preserving fluid delayed the decrease in phosphocreatine and ATP and the increase in organic phosphate. So ATP helped the muscle cells to be thriftier with their energy.

ATP-supplementation makes muscle cells thriftier with energy

ATP-supplementation makes muscle cells thriftier with energy

The effect almost disappeared when the researchers added the adenosine receptor blocker MRS-1523 to the ATP. From this they conclude that the protective effect of ATP is to a large extent due to the fact that the ATP molecule breaks down into adenosine.

When the researchers then looked at whether adenosine would also protect muscle tissue they discovered, however, that adenosine offers less protection than ATP. Exactly how ATP protects muscle tissue remains to some extent a mystery.

J Surg Res. 2013 May 1;181(1):e15-22.

Pure ATP supplement for more muscle power 09.08.2011