A novel role for subcutaneous adipose tissue in exercise-induced improvements in glucose homeostasis

Kristin I. Stanford, Roeland J.W. Middelbeek, Kristy L. Townsend, Min Young Lee, Hirokazu Takahashi, Kawai So, Kristen M. Hitchcox, Kathleen R. Markan, Katharina Hellbach, Michael F. Hirshman, Yu Hua Tseng, Laurie J. Goodyear

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

194 Scopus citations


Exercise training improves whole-body glucose homeostasis through effects largely attributed to adaptations in skeletal muscle; however, training also affects other tissues, including adipose tissue. To determine whether exercise-induced adaptations to adipose tissue contribute to training-induced improvements in glucose homeostasis, subcutaneous white adipose tissue (scWAT) from exercise- Trained or sedentary donor mice was transplanted into the visceral cavity of sedentary recipients. Remarkably, 9 days posttransplantation, mice receiving scWAT from exercisetrained mice had improved glucose tolerance and enhanced insulin sensitivity compared with mice transplanted with scWAT from sedentary or sham- Treated mice. Mice transplanted with scWAT from exercisetrained mice had increased insulin-stimulated glucose uptake in tibialis anterior and soleus muscles and brown adipose tissue, suggesting that the transplanted scWAT exerted endocrine effects. Furthermore, the deleterious effects of high-fat feeding on glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity were completely reversed if high-fat-fed recipient mice were transplanted with scWAT from exercise- Trained mice. In additional experiments, voluntary exercise training by wheel running for only 11 days resulted in profound changes in scWAT, including the increased expression of ∼1,550 genes involved in numerous cellular functions including metabolism. Exercise training causes adaptations to scWAT that elicit metabolic improvements in other tissues, demonstrating a previously unrecognized role for adipose tissue in the beneficial effects of exercise on systemic glucose homeostasis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2002-2014
Number of pages13
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2015


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