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Am J Physiol. 1992 Jun;262(6 Pt 1):E791-9.

Increased plasma FFA uptake and oxidation during prolonged exercise in trained vs. untrained humans.

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  • 1August Krogh Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.


We studied the effect of local muscle adaptations on free fatty acid (FFA) metabolism during prolonged exercise in trained and untrained subjects. Six trained (T) and six untrained (UT) young human males exercised for 3 h at 60% of their individual maximal dynamic knee extension capacity. The contribution of blood and plasma metabolites as well as intramuscular substrates to oxidative metabolism in the thigh was calculated from arteriovenous differences and femoral-venous blood flow as well as from muscle biopsies in subjects that were continuously infused with [1-14C]palmitate. Arterial plasma FFA concentration increased over time in both T and UT. Fractional uptake of FFA across the thigh remained unchanged over time in T (15%) but decreased in UT (from 15 to 7%), especially during the last hour of exercise. Thus FFA uptake increased linearly over time in T (96 +/- 20 to 213 +/- 20, whereas it leveled off after 2 h in UT (74 +/- 16 to 133 +/- 46) even though FFA delivery increased similarly in T and UT. Percentage oxidation was similar in T and UT; thus total FFA oxidation was higher in T. Glucose uptake increased in both groups over time and was significantly higher in UT during the last hour of exercise. In conclusion, during prolonged knee extension exercise, FFA uptake increases linearly with FFA delivery in the trained thigh, whereas in the untrained thigh uptake becomes saturated with time. This difference partly explains the increased lipid oxidation in T vs. UT and suggests, furthermore, that local muscle adaptations to training are important for the utilization of FFA during prolonged exercise.

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