Skeletal muscle microvascular dysfunction and mitochondrial rarefaction feature in type-2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) linked to low tissue glucose disposal rate (GDR). Exercise training and milk protein supplementation independently promote microvascular and metabolic plasticity in muscle associated with improved nutrient delivery, but combined effects are unknown. In a randomised-controlled trial, 24 men (55.6 y, SD5.7) with T2DM ingested whey protein drinks (protein/carbohydrate/fat: 20/10/3 g; WHEY) or placebo (carbohydrate/fat: 30/3 g; CON) before/after 45 mixed-mode intense exercise sessions over 10 weeks, to study effects on insulin-stimulated (hyperinsulinemic clamp) skeletal-muscle microvascular blood flow (mBF) and perfusion (near-infrared spectroscopy), and histological, genetic, and biochemical markers (biopsy) of microvascular and mitochondrial plasticity. WHEY enhanced insulin-stimulated perfusion (WHEY-CON 5.6%; 90%CI -0.1, 11.3), while mBF was not altered (3.5%; -17.5, 24.5); perfusion, but not mBF, associated (regression) with increased GDR. Exercise training increased mitochondrial (range of means: 40-90%) and lipid density (20-30%), enzyme activity (20-70%), capillary:fiber ratio (~25%), and lowered systolic (~4%) and diastolic (4-5%) blood pressure, but without WHEY effects. WHEY dampened PGC1α -2.9% (90%CI -5.7, -0.2) and NOS3 -6.4% (-1.4, -0.2) expression, but other mRNA were unclear. Skeletal muscle microvascular and mitochondrial exercise adaptations were not accentuated by whey protein ingestion in men with T2DM.
Clinical Trial Registration Number: ACTRN12614001197628
• Chronic whey ingestion in T2DM with exercise altered expression of several mitochondrial and angiogenic mRNA.
• Whey added no additional benefit to muscle microvascular or mitochondrial adaptations to exercise.
• Insulin-stimulated perfusion increased with whey but was without impact on glucose disposal.