Exercise improves adiposopathy, insulin sensitivity and metabolic syndrome severity independent of intensity

Emily M. Heiston, Natalie Z.M. Eichner, Nicole M. Gilbertson, Steven K. Malin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


New Findings: What is the central question of this study? What are the effects of work-matched continuous versus high-intensity interval training for 2 weeks on adiposopathy and cardiometabolic risk in obese adults with prediabetes? What is the main finding and its importance? Independent of intensity, short-term exercise improves adiposopathy and insulin sensitivity. While both exercise intensities reduced fasting leptin concentrations and metabolic syndrome severity, only interval training elevated total adiponectin. In contrast to previous work, neither condition altered high-molecular weight adiponectin. Collectively, these data suggest that short-term exercise can improve adipokine profiles, which may aid in reducing cardiometabolic risk prior to clinically meaningful weight loss in adults with prediabetes. Abstract: Individuals with prediabetes who are overweight and obese are at an increased risk of developing endocrine disruption of fat tissue, known as adiposopathy. While short-term exercise improves adipokine profiles, the effects of exercise intensity when matched for energy expenditure on adiposopathy are unknown. We hypothesized that high-intensity exercise would elicit greater changes in adiposopathy compared to moderate exercise. Twenty-eight overweight and obese adults (age: 60.9 ± 8.4 years; BMI: 33.0 ± 5.4 kg m−2) with prediabetes were randomized to twelve 60-min sessions of either moderate-continuous (CONT; n = 14) or high-intensity interval (INT; n = 14) exercise training. Total and high molecular weight (HMW) adiponectin and leptin were collected to assess adiposopathy (ratio of total adiponectin to leptin; A/L). Insulin sensitivity (SIIS) was determined using a 75 g oral glucose tolerance test before and after training. Cardiometabolic risk factors were measured and a z-score was calculated to determine metabolic syndrome (MetS) severity. CONT and INT increased A/L (P < 0.01) and decreased leptin (P < 0.01) and MetS severity (P = 0.04). Neither intervention altered circulating levels of HMW adiponectin (P = 0.76) and only INT increased total adiponectin levels (P = 0.02). Both intensities increased insulin sensitivity (P < 0.01), which was associated with improvements in A/L (r = 0.47, P = 0.01). Additionally, increases in A/L tended to relate to decreased MetS severity (r = −0.36, P = 0.09). Short-term exercise intensity, when matched for energy expenditure, does not differentially affect improvements in adiposopathy in overweight and obese adults with prediabetes. Further, 12 bouts of exercise improved insulin sensitivity and MetS severity, suggesting that improving adipokine profiles may aid in reducing cardiometabolic risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)632-640
Number of pages9
JournalExperimental Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Physiology (medical)


  • adiponectin
  • leptin
  • prediabetes


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