AMPK and mTOR: Uncovering the Relationship

Posted by

Enzymes serve various important biological or biochemical processes, and it’s safe to say that problems in their function result to some of the biggest health concerns. It’s also appropriate to say that for those seeking to improve their physique and overall health, triggering the activation of certain enzymes and inducing their regulatory effects could prove to be beneficial. In this article, you’ll learn about two specific enzymes – AMPK and mTOR.

About Roles and Purposes

So, what does AMPK do exactly? To put it simply, it regulates energy production. Whenever it detects that the body is running out of energy, it starts a series of processes that ultimately leads to the burning of fats and sugars for use as fuel. The enzyme is also known to enhance mitochondrial activity, which translates to a boost in overall muscle performance – and that’s why some bodybuilders seek ways to increase AMPK activation.

On the other hand, mTOR mainly deals with cellular growth and survival, as well as proliferation. Interestingly, it also influences the process of autophagy, in which cells are destroyed since they’ve developed irreversible DNA errors or have simply become worn out. Do note that mTOR does not exist in its core state. In order to influence anything at the cellular level, it needs to form protein complexes.

MTOR Complex 1 (or simply, mTORC1) is of interest to those attempting to build more muscle. Specifically, its activation results to muscle protein synthesis and allows skeletal muscle to increase in mass. As you’d expect, long-term deactivation or inactivity of the aforesaid protein complex leads to reduced muscle mass – and this partly explains why those in their golden years tend to exhibit muscle wasting and reduced strength.

Aiming for mTOR over-activation isn’t good though, as it comes with increased cancer risks. This is further worsened by the fact that the enzyme’s activation puts a stop to autophagy. In other words, tumors that should at least be attacked by the body’s own error-eliminating mechanism are left to grow and proliferate. Also, the cancer cells get additional supplies of nutrients and oxygen with excessive or unnecessary mTOR activation.

The Enzyme Link Revealed

At this point, you’re already familiar with the roles of each enzyme, so it’s only appropriate to move on and answer this question – do they work in an interconnected way? Well, in certain aspects they do. In maintaining energy balance, for example, AMPK influences the activation of mTOR – this shouldn’t be surprising since the former is among the body’s key detectors of energy balance, and the latter functions depending on cellular state.

This doesn’t mean that they carry out the same set of functions and generally boost the body’s energy levels when activated. In the context of autophagy, AMPK induces autophagy whenever there’s a limited supply of glucose in the blood, mainly for purpose of increasing the availability of energy. MTOR, on the other hand, prevents autophagy from occurring whenever there’s sufficient nutrient availability in the system.

Unfortunately, experts haven’t yet discovered the specifics of this biological interplay. What can be said with accuracy though, is that one tends to inhibit the other – and so, to benefit from the key functions of each, there’s a need for balance. It isn’t as simple as over-activating AMPK or mTOR (which, as you’ve learned, is rather detrimental). Alternating between the enzymes in terms of activation should prove to be most advantageous.

Ways to Initiate Activation

In increasing mTOR activation, the most commonly recommended approach is simply to take leucine supplements. Again, the exact process is yet to be determined but it’s been discovered that the enzyme is sensitive towards leucine concentration – activating whenever there’s elevated amounts of the amino acid in the body. As for increasing AMPK activation, a few dietary changes and spending more time in the gym should do the trick.

Of course, supplements also exist but you should be aware (especially if you’re into bodybuilding competitions or sports endeavors) that some pill-based AMPK activators have already been banned. Also, as previously mentioned, it’s important not to keep your AMPK activation high for long durations, as doing so will only prevent mTOR from inducing muscle synthesis. Simply put, the perfect balance will bring forth the ideal physique.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *