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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2013 Oct 1;115(7):988-94. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00237.2013. Epub 2013 Aug 8.

Fetuin-A is linked to improved glucose tolerance after short-term exercise training in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

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Department of Pathobiology, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio;


Fetuin-A is synthesized in the liver and may be associated with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and type 2 diabetes. Lifestyle-induced weight loss reduces fetuin-A, but the effect of exercise alone is unknown. We determined the effect of short-term exercise training on plasma fetuin-A in 13 (50.5 ± 3.4 yr) obese adults (body mass index, 33.3 ± 0.9 kg/m(2)) with clinically diagnosed NAFLD. Subjects participated in 7 days of supervised exercise training (60 min/day at ∼85% maximum heart rate) and were instructed to maintain their normal caloric and macronutrient intake. Insulin resistance was assessed by an oral glucose tolerance test. Hepatic triglyceride content (HTGC) was determined by proton MRI. We used C2C12 skeletal muscle cells to examine the direct effect of fetuin-A on 2-deoxyglucose uptake, insulin signaling [phosphorylation of Akt and AS160 (pAkt and pAS160, respectively)], and glucose transporter-4 (GLUT-4) translocation. Insulin resistance was reduced by 29% (P < 0.05), and glucose area under the curve (AUC) was decreased by 13% (P < 0.01) after the 7 days of exercise. Furthermore, circulating fetuin-A was decreased by 11% (4.2 ± 03 vs. 3.6 ± 0.2 nM; P < 0.02), and this change correlated with reduced insulin resistance (r = 0.62; P < 0.04) and glucose AUC (r = 0.58; P < 0.04). Importantly, the exercise program did not change body weight (P = 0.12), HTGC (P = 0.73), or aerobic capacity (P = 0.14). In vitro experiments revealed that fetuin-A decreased skeletal muscle glucose uptake by downregulating pAkt and pAS160 and subsequent GLUT-4 translocation to the plasma membrane. Together, our findings highlight a role for fetuin-A in skeletal muscle insulin resistance and suggest that part of the exercise-induced improvement in glucose tolerance in patients with NAFLD may be due to lowering fetuin-A.


hyperglycemia; inflammation; insulin sensitivity; obesity

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