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Exp Gerontol. 2018 Nov;113:150-162. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2018.10.006. Epub 2018 Oct 9.

Beneficial alterations in body composition, physical performance, oxidative stress, inflammatory markers, and adipocytokines induced by long-term high-intensity interval training in an aged rat model.

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School of Sport Sciences, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing, China. Electronic address:
School of Sport Sciences, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing, China.
Laboratory of Laser Sports Medicine, South China Normal University, Guangzhou, China.
Laboratory of Laser Sports Medicine, South China Normal University, Guangzhou, China. Electronic address:


Sarcopenia is associated with loss of muscle mass and function as well as oxidative stress, chronic low-grade inflammatory status, and adipocytokine dysfunction. It has been reported that sarcopenia can be attenuated by exercise training. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether long-term high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT) protocols could differentially modulate changes in body composition, physical performance, inflammatory parameters, and adipocytokines in fat tissues and serum, as well as oxidative parameters and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) levels in skeletal muscle tissue of aged rats. Middle-aged (18-month-old) female Sprague Dawley rats (n = 36) were subjected to 8 months of MICT (26-m MICT) or HIIT (26-m HIIT) treadmill training (45 min, 5 times per week), and the results were compared with those of age-matched sedentary controls (26-m SED); 8-month-old (8-m SED) and 18-month-old (18-m SED) rats served as aging sedentary controls. Body composition parameters; physical performance; serum and skeletal muscle oxidative stress parameters; levels of IGF-1, a serum and fat tissue inflammatory marker; adipocytokine (leptin, adiponectin) levels; and plasma glucose and lipid metabolism-related parameters were analyzed among the five groups. The percent fat and body fat to lean mass ratio increased as a main effect with age, whereas 26-m HIIT but not 26-m MICT attenuated these alterations. The 26-m HIIT group showed a larger improvement in grip strength compared to that of 26-m MICT, with a similar increase in inclined plane performance, maximum running speed, and exhaustion over time as compared with the 26-m SED group. Notably, the 26-m HIIT group showed lower high-sensitivity C-reactive protein levels and higher IL-10 in serum compared with those of the 26-m SED and 26-m MICT groups. Both exercise protocols promoted increased skeletal muscle IGF-1 and decreased serum IGF-1 and adiponectin relative to those in the 26-m SED group, whereas only 26-m HIIT dampened the age-related decrease in plasma free fatty acids and increased serum leptin, along with providing lower fat tissue leptin as compared with that in the 26-m SED group. Moreover, the 26-m HIIT group showed lower serum and skeletal muscle malonylaldehyde and skeletal muscle 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine (8-OHdG) levels than those in the 26-m MICT group, albeit similar decreases in serum and skeletal muscle 4-hydroxynonenal and serum 8-OHdG and increases in skeletal muscle superoxide dismutase 2 activity. In conclusion, HIIT initiated late in life exhibited greater beneficial effects in ameliorating aged-related elevations in oxidative stress and inflammation, as well as dysfunction of circulating adipocytokine levels, than a volume-matched MICT program. HIIT may therefore contribute to improvements in body composition and physical performance changes associated with aging.


Adipocytokine; Aging; High-intensity interval training; Inflammation; Oxidative stress

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