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Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Jan 1;302(1):E145-52. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00618.2010. Epub 2011 Oct 18.

Exercise with calorie restriction improves insulin sensitivity and glycogen synthase activity in obese postmenopausal women with impaired glucose tolerance.

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  • 1Division. of Gerontology, Baltimore Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 10 N. Greene St., Baltimore, MD 21201, USA.


Our objective was to compare the effects of in vivo insulin on skeletal muscle glycogen synthase (GS) activity in normal (NGT) vs. impaired glucose-tolerant (IGT) obese postmenopausal women and to determine whether an increase in insulin activation of GS is associated with an improvement in insulin sensitivity (M) following calorie restriction (CR) and/or aerobic exercise plus calorie restriction (AEX + CR) in women with NGT and IGT. We did a longitudinal, clinical intervention study of CR compared with AEX + CR. Overweight and obese women, 49-76 yr old, completed 6 mo of CR (n = 46) or AEX + CR (n = 50) with Vo(2 max), body composition, and glucose tolerance testing. Hyperinsulinemic euglycemic (80 mU·m(-2)·min(-1)) clamps (n = 73) and skeletal muscle biopsies (before and during clamp) (n = 58) were performed before and after the interventions (n = 50). After 120 min of hyperinsulinemia during the clamp, GS fractional activity and insulin's effect to increase GS fractional activity (insulin - basal) were significantly lower in IGT vs. NGT (P < 0.01) at baseline. GS total activity increased during the clamp in NGT (P < 0.05), but not IGT, at baseline. CR and AEX + CR resulted in a significant 8% weight loss with reductions in total fat mass, visceral fat, subcutaneous fat, and intramuscular fat. Overall, M increased (P < 0.01), and the change in M (postintervention - preintervention) was associated with the change in insulin-stimulated GS fractional activity (partial r = 0.44, P < 0.005). In IGT, the change (postintervention - preintervention) in insulin-stimulated GS total activity was greater following AEX + CR than CR alone (P < 0.05). In IGT, insulin-stimulated GS-independent (P < 0.005) and fractional activity (P = 0.06) increased following AEX + CR. We conclude that the greatest benefits at the whole body and cellular level (insulin activation of GS) in older women at highest risk for diabetes are derived from a lifestyle intervention that includes exercise and diet.

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