The processing of material from the fishing industry generates substantial unexploited waste products, many of which possess high biological value.
As the world looks to more sustainable food sources, we recently undertook a study investigating the use of waste by-products of the fishing industry as a source of high quality protein. Fish-derived proteins, particularly fish protein hydrolysates (FPH), offer potential as high-quality sources of dietary protein whilst enhancing economic and environmental sustainability. Ageing is associated with the loss of skeletal muscle mass and function. Thus, there appears to be a potential application for FPH in older persons as a high-quality protein source that may also confer additional health benefits. In this study funded by the Marine Institute, we worked with industry partners Bio-Marine Ingredients Ireland to evaluate a Blue-Whiting Protein Hydrolysate (BWPH) for the ability to increase circulating essential amino acids in older adults and to stimulate muscle protein synthesis (MPS) in vitro. Here we demonstrated that BWPH induces robust essential aminoacidaemia in older adults, albeit not to the same extent as the industry benchmark Whey Protein Isolate (WPI) due to the divergent amino acid profiles of the respective starting samples. This means that the BWPH is not as high quality as WPI. However, this can potentially be overcome by providing a greater amount of protein, which is viable as these products are comparatively cheap. Using our cell-based experimental model, we also provided preliminary evidence of the effects of BWPH on MPS and myotube growth in vitro. Based on current evidence, this BWPH may offer potential as an alternative source of readily bioavailable protein to support skeletal muscle health and anabolism in older people. This has potential commercial and economic impact for our industry partner and Ireland Inc., respectively. We are currently planning two human follow up studies supported by the Marine Institute and the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine. The first study will investigate the efficacy of a fish protein hydrolysate to stimulate MPS following a bout of resistance exercise. The second study will evaluate the effect of a chronic 8 week intervention combining daily supplementation with a fish protein hydrolysate and resistance training three times per week on muscle mass and function in older adults. In addition, we are also interested in the bioactivities of marine algae and have a series of studies planned which are supported by the Disrupting Technologies Innovation Fund. Expect to see more and more of this type of research as industry looks to enhance the sustainability of their activities globally.
Dr Brian Carson, PhD; is a Senior Lecturer in Exercise Physiology; firstname.lastname@example.org in the Department of Physical Education and Sport Science in the University of Limerick. Dr Carson is interested in metabolic adaptation in response to exercise and nutrition.