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11.07.2017 | Original Contribution | Ausgabe 6/2018

European Journal of Nutrition 6/2018

Effects of endurance training on autophagy and apoptotic signaling in visceral adipose tissue of prolonged high fat diet-fed rats

European Journal of Nutrition > Ausgabe 6/2018
Sílvia Rocha-Rodrigues, Inês O. Gonçalves, Jorge Beleza, António Ascensão, José Magalhães



Autophagy and apoptosis play critical roles in both development and tissue homeostasis in response to (patho)physiological stimuli, such as high-fat diet (HFD) and endurance training (ET). Therefore, we aimed to investigate how ET modulates autophagy and apoptotic-related signaling in visceral adipose tissue of long-standing HFD-fed rats.


The study was conducted over a 17-week period on Sprague–Dawley rats, which were divided into four groups (n = 8/group): standard diet sedentary (STD+SED), high-fat diet sedentary (HFD+SED), standard diet ET (STD+ET) and high-fat diet ET (HFD+ET). After 9 weeks of dietary regimens, ET groups were trained for 8 weeks on treadmill (5 days/week at 25 m/min for 60 min/day), while maintaining dietary regimens. Autophagy and apoptotic-signaling markers in epididymal white adipose tissue (eWAT) were determined using RT-qPCR, Western blot and spectrometry techniques.


ET reduced body weight, visceral fat mass and HOMA-IR in standard and HF diet-fed animals. Moreover, ET reverted the HFD-induced increases in the percentage of larger adipocytes and also reduced the percentage of smaller adipocytes. The HFD decreased pre-adipocyte factor 1 (DLK1/PREF1) and increased the pro-apoptotic markers (Bax protein and caspase 3-like activity), while having no impact on autophagy markers. However, ET increased DLK1/PREF1 and Bcl-2 in both diet types, while decreasing Bax and caspases 9, 8 and 3-like activities in HFD feeding rats. Additionally, Beclin-1 and p62 protein significantly increased in ET groups of both diet types.


Data demonstrate that 8 weeks of ET was effective in attenuating apoptotic-related signaling in long-standing HFD-fed rats. Moreover, HFD and ET had no impact on VAT autophagy markers.

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