Adipose tissue extracts plasma ammonia after sprint exercise in women and men

Mona Esbjörnsson, Jens Bülow, Barbara Norman, Lene Simonsen, Jacek Nowak, Olav Rooyackers, Lennart Kaijser, Eva Jansson

17 Citations (Scopus)


This study evaluates a possible contribution of adipose tissue to the elimination of plasma ammonia (NH(3)) after high-intensity sprint exercise. In 14 healthy men and women, repeated blood samples for plasma NH(3) analyses were obtained from brachial artery and from a subcutaneous abdominal vein before and after three repeated 30-s cycle sprints separated by 20 min of recovery. Biopsies from subcutaneous abdominal adipose tissue were obtained and analyzed for glutamine and glutamate content. After exercise, both arterial and abdominal venous plasma NH(3) concentrations were lower in women than in men (P <0.01 and P <0.001, respectively). All postexercise measurements showed sex-independent positive arterio-subcutaneous abdominal venous plasma NH(3) concentration differences (a-v(abd)), indicating a net uptake of NH(3) from blood to adipose tissue. However, the fractional extraction (a-v(abd)/a) of NH(3) was higher in women than in men (P <0.05). The glutamine-to-glutamate ratio in adipose tissue was increased after the second and third bout of sprint exercise (2.2 +/- 0.7 and 1.6 +/- 0.8, respectively) compared with the value at rest (1.2 +/- 0.6), suggesting a reaction of the extracted NH(3) with glutamate resulting in its conversion to glutamine. Adipose tissue may thus play an important physiological role in eliminating plasma NH(3) and thereby reducing the risk of NH(3) intoxication after high-intensity exercise.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)1576-80
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2006


  • Adipose Tissue
  • Adult
  • Ammonia
  • Bicycling
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Glutamine
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metabolic Clearance Rate
  • Physical Endurance
  • Physical Exertion
  • Sex Factors


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