Metabolic flexibility to lipid availability during exercise is enhanced in individuals with high insulin sensitivity

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American Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism

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© 2018 the American Physiological Society. Metabolic flexibility to lipid (MetFlex-lip) is the capacity to adapt lipid oxidation to lipid availability. Hypothetically, impaired MetFlex-lip in skeletal muscle induces accumulation of lipid metabolites that interfere with insulin signaling. Our aim was to compare MetFlex-lip during exercise in subjects with low (Low_IS) vs. high (High_IS) insulin sensitivity. Twenty healthy men were designated as Low_IS or High_IS on the basis of the median of the homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance index. Groups(V had similar age, body mass index,V and maximum oxygen uptakeO2max). Subjects cycled at 50%O2max until expending 650 kcal. Adaptation in lipid oxidation was calculated as the drop in respiratory quotient (RQ) at the end of exercise vs. the maximum RQ (ωRQ). Lipid availability was calculated as the increase in circulating nonesterified fatty acids (NEFA) at the end of exercise vs. the minimum NEFA (ωNEFA). ωRQ as a function of ωNEFA was used to determine MetFlex-lip. On average, RQ and circulating NEFA changed similarly in both groups. However, ωRQ correlated with ωNEFA in High_IS (r ==0.83, P < 0.01) but not in Low_IS (r ==0.25, P = 0.48) subjects. Thus the slope of the ωRQ vs. ωNEFA relationship was steeper in High_IS vs. Low_IS subjects (=0.139 ± 0.03 vs. =0.025 ± 0.03 RQ·mmol-1·l-1, respectively; P < 0.05), with similar intercepts. We conclude that in subjects with High_IS lipid-to-carbohydrate oxidation ratio adapts to the increased circulating NEFA availability during exercise. Such Met-Flex-lip appears impaired in subjects with Low_IS. Whether a cause-effect relationship exists between impaired MetFlex-lip and low insulin sensitivity remains to be determined.





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