Muscle triglyceride metabolism during exercise

Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 1992 Jan;70(1):123-31. doi: 10.1139/y92-019.


Skeletal muscle cell contains a considerable amount of triglycerides. The amount stored depends on the animal species as well as on muscle fiber composition. It is well documented that triglycerides in the fast-twitch red muscle and to a lesser extent in the slow-twitch muscle, but not those in the fast-twitch white muscle, are mobilized during prolonged exercise. Yet, little is known about the regulation of the metabolism of muscle triglycerides either at rest or during exercise. This is well reflected by the fact that an enzyme responsible for the hydrolysis of muscle triglycerides has not been identified. Mobilization of muscle triglycerides during exercise seems to be under both adrenergic and noradrenergic control. Accumulation of lactic acid and reduction in muscle pH are likely to be strong inhibitors of muscle triglyceride lipolysis. Reduction of carbohydrate availability accelerates mobilization of muscle triglycerides during exercise. The relationship between the plasma free fatty acids and muscle triglyceride metabolism seems to be complex. It has been proposed that most free fatty acids entering the muscle cell is esterified before being oxidized, but this is arguable for contracting skeletal muscles. It is suggested that most free fatty acids entering contracting high oxidative myocytes are transported directly to the mitochondria. A much lesser portion is likely esterified. It is proposed that triglycerides stored in the contracting muscle cell are mobilized when the delivery of the blood-borne-free fatty acids to the mitochondria is insufficient.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport, Active
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified / blood
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Muscles / metabolism*
  • Physical Exertion / physiology
  • Triglycerides / metabolism*


  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified
  • Triglycerides