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Ameliorating effects of lifelong physical activity on healthy aging and mitochondrial function in human white adipose tissue

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  • Anders Gudiksen
  • Albina Qoqaj
  • Stine Ringholm
  • Jørgen Wojtaszewski
  • Peter Plomgaard
  • Henriette Pilegaard
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Growing old is patently among the most prominent risk factors for lifestyle-related diseases and deterioration in physical performance. Aging in particular affects mitochondrial homeostasis, and maintaining a well-functioning mitochondrial pool is imperative in order to avoid age-associated metabolic decline. White adipose tissue (WAT) is a key organ in energy balance, and impaired mitochondrial function in adipocytes has been associated with increased low-grade inflammation, altered metabolism, excessive reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, and an accelerated aging phenotype. Exercise training improves mitochondrial health but whether lifelong exercise training can sufficiently maintain WAT mitochondrial function is currently unknown. Therefore, to dissect the role and dose-dependence of lifelong exercise training on aging WAT metabolic parameters and mitochondrial function, young and older untrained, as well as moderately and highly exercise trained older male subjects were recruited and abdominal subcutaneous (s)WAT biopsies and venous blood samples were obtained to measure mitochondrial function and key metabolic factors in WAT and plasma. Mitochondrial intrinsic respiratory capacity was lower in sWAT from older than from young subjects. In spite of this, maximal mitochondrial respiration per wet weight, markers of oxidative capacity, and mitophagic capacity were higher in sWAT from the lifelong highly exercise trained group than all other groups. Furthermore, ROS emission was generally lower in sWAT from lifelong highly exercise trained subjects than older untrained subjects. Taken together, aging reduces intrinsic mitochondrial respiration in human sWAT, but lifelong high-volume exercise training increases oxidative capacity by increasing mitochondrial volume likely contributing to healthy aging.

TidsskriftThe journals of gerontology. Series A, Biological sciences and medical sciences
Udgave nummer6
Sider (fra-til)1101-1111
Antal sider11
StatusUdgivet - 1 jun. 2022

Bibliografisk note

© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:

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