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Effects of Citrulline alone or combined with exercise on muscle mass, muscle strength, and physical performance among older adults

a systematic review

Aubertin-Leheudre, Mylènea,b,*; Buckinx, Fannya,b,c,*

Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care: January 2020 - Volume 23 - Issue 1 - p 8–16
doi: 10.1097/MCO.0000000000000617
AGEING: BIOLOGY AND NUTRITION: Edited by Jürgen M. Bauer and John E. Morley

Purpose of review To Establish the potential of Citrulline supplementation (CIT) combined or not with exercise on muscle function and physical performance via a systematic review of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in human aged 50 years and older.

Recent findings Based on Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis guideline, 103 references have been identified. Among this number, only six RCTs (250 participants) matched the inclusion criteria and were included in the present systematic review. Among the included studies, five of six reported beneficial effects of CIT on muscle mass. Then, four of six studies reported CIT effects on muscle strength but also that CIT when combined to exercise results in further improvements in upper muscle strength. Finally, three of six studies reported beneficial CIT effect on physical performance and suggested that CIT with exercise displayed greater improvements in walking speed than exercise alone.

Summary CIT supplementation seems to be able to improve muscular and physical factors in frail elderly people (malnourished, hypertensive, obese, dynapenic-obese) compared to placebo. More importantly, CIT combined to exercise is more efficient than exercise or CIT alone. However, because of the small number (six) and heterogeneity (dose, duration, population) of the studies realized in older adults, further studies are needed to confirm its promising potential.

aDepartment of Exercise Science, Groupe de recherche en activité physique adapté (GRAPA), Université du Québec à

bCentre de Recherche de l’Institut Universitaire de Gériatrie de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada

cWHO Collaborating Center for Public Health Aspects of Musculoskeletal Health and Ageing, University of Liège, Belgium

Correspondence to Mylène Aubertin-Leheudre, PhD, Département des Sciences de l’Activité Physique, Faculté des Sciences, UQAM, Pavillon Sciences Biologiques, SB-4615, 141, Avenue du Président Kennedy, Montréal, Québec, Canada H2X 1Y4. E-mail:

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