Journal of Physiology and Biochemistry

, Volume 74, Issue 2, pp 235–246 | Cite as

Physical exercise mitigates high-fat diet-induced adiposopathy and related endocrine alterations in an animal model of obesity

  • Sílvia Rocha-RodriguesEmail author
  • Inês O. Gonçalves
  • Jorge Beleza
  • António Ascensão
  • José Magalhães
Original Article


The dysregulation of adipokine secretion owing to adiposopathy can contribute to the pathogenesis of obesity-related disorders. Being that exercise is an advised strategy against obesity-induced adiposopathy, we aimed to analyze the role of physical exercise as a preventive and therapeutic strategy against high-fat diet (HFD)-induced adipokine and ghrelin alterations. Rats were pair-fed the Lieber De Carli standard diet (S, 35 Kcal% fat) or HFD (71 Kcal% fat) over 17 weeks. Animals were assigned into four groups as follows: standard diet sedentary (SS), standard diet voluntary physical activity (SVPA), high-fat diet sedentary (HS), and high-fat diet voluntary physical activity (HVPA). After 9 weeks of dietary treatment, half of the SS and HS animals were submitted to an 8-week endurance training program, standard diet endurance training (SET), and high-fat-diet endurance training (HET) groups, maintaining the respective diets. Although there were no changes in body weight, HFD increased visceral adiposity, percentage of large adipocytes, hypoxia inducible factor (HIF)-1α, and leptin contents in epididymal adipose tissue (eWAT) and decreased plasma content of adiponectin (AdipQ). Both VPA and ET decreased visceral adiposity and percentage of large adipocytes in HFD-fed animals, but ET also increased the percentage of small- to medium-sized adipocytes. VPA increased plasma growth hormone secretagogue receptor (GHS-R) and decreased leptin protein in HVPA group. ET decreased plasma insulin and leptin levels and eWAT HIF-1α and leptin expression in HET group. Moreover, ET improved insulin sensitivity, plasma high molecular weight, and AdipQ and ghrelin levels and increased eWAT and GHS-R expression. Our data suggest that exercise, particularly ET, reverted adiposopathy and related endocrine alterations induced by an isocaloric HFD pair-fed diet.


Obesity Adiposopathy Endurance training High molecular weight adiponectin Ghrelin Leptin 



We are thankful to Alexandra Holy, MPP/MBA, Mills College, Oakland, CA, USA, for proofreading the English language of the manuscript.

Funding sources

This work was supported by a grant from the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) to the Research Center in Physical Activity, Health and Leisure, UID/DTP/00617/2013; to JM PTDC/DTP-DES/7087/2014, POCI-01-0145-FEDER-016690; and to S.R-R, SFRH/BD/89807/2012.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© University of Navarra 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sílvia Rocha-Rodrigues
    • 1
    Email author
  • Inês O. Gonçalves
    • 1
  • Jorge Beleza
    • 1
  • António Ascensão
    • 1
  • José Magalhães
    • 1
  1. 1.CIAFEL—Research Centre in Physical Activity, Health and Leisure, Faculty of Sport SciencesUniversity of PortoPortoPortugal

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