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Diab Vasc Dis Res. 2019 Jan;16(1):77-86. doi: 10.1177/1479164118815279. Epub 2018 Dec 11.

Aerobic exercise training improves insulin-induced vasorelaxation in a vessel-specific manner in rats with insulin-treated experimental diabetes.

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1 School of Kinesiology, Western University, London, ON, Canada.
2 Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada.
3 Department of Veterinary Biomedical Sciences, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada.
4 Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, USA.
5 Lawson Health Research Institute, London, ON, Canada.
6 Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, USA.
7 Department of Child Health, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, USA.


Vascular insulin resistance often precedes endothelial dysfunction in type 1 diabetes mellitus. Strategies to limit vascular dysfunction include intensive insulin therapy (4-9 mM) and aerobic training. To avoid the risk of hypoglycaemia, individuals often prescribed conventional insulin therapy (9-15 mM) and participate in resistance training. In a model of type 1 diabetes mellitus, this study examined insulin-induced vasomotor function in the aorta and femoral artery to determine (1) whether resistance training with conventional insulin therapy provides the same benefits as aerobic training with conventional insulin therapy, (2) whether aerobic training or resistance training, when paired with conventional insulin therapy, results in superior vasomotor function compared to intensive insulin therapy alone and (3) whether vessel-specific adaptations exist. Groups consisted of conventional insulin therapy, intensive insulin therapy, aerobic training with conventional insulin therapy and resistance training with conventional insulin therapy. Following multiple low doses of streptozotocin, male Sprague-Dawley rats were supplemented with insulin to maintain blood glucose concentrations (9-15 mM: conventional insulin therapy, aerobic training and resistance training; 4-9 mM: intensive insulin therapy) for 12 weeks. Aerobic training performed treadmill exercise and resistance training consisted of weighted climbing. Coinciding with increased Akt signalling, aerobic training resulted in enhanced insulin-induced vasorelaxation in the femoral artery. Intensive insulin therapy displayed increased mitogen-activated protein kinase signalling and no improvement in insulin-stimulated vasorelaxation compared to all other groups. These data suggest that aerobic training may be more beneficial for limiting the pathogenesis of vascular disease in type 1 diabetes mellitus than merely intensive insulin therapy.


Insulin resistance; endothelial dysfunction; physical activity; resistance exercise; treadmill exercise

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