Improved glucose tolerance after intensive life style intervention occurs without changes in muscle ceramide or triacylglycerol in morbidly obese subjects

Acta Physiol (Oxf). 2011 Mar;201(3):357-64. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-1716.2010.02180.x. Epub 2010 Oct 11.


Aim: This study investigated the effect of a 15-week life style intervention (hypocaloric diet and regular exercise) on glucose tolerance, skeletal muscle lipids and muscle metabolic adaptations in 14 female and 9 male morbidly obese subjects (age: 32.5±2.3 years, body mass index: 46.1±1.9 kg m(-2) ).

Method: Before and after the life style intervention, an oral glucose tolerance test was performed and a muscle biopsy was obtained in the fasted state. Maximal oxygen uptake was measured by an indirect test.

Results: After the intervention, body weight was decreased (P<0.05) by 11±1%, maximal oxygen uptake increased (P<0.05) by 18±5% and glucose tolerance increased (P<0.05) by 12±3%. Muscle glycogen was significantly increased by 47±14%, but muscle ceramide and triacylglycerol content remained completely unchanged. No sex difference was observed for any of these parameters, but during submaximal exercise a marked decrease (P<0.05) of 15±2% in respiratory exchange ratio was seen only in females indicating an enhanced fat oxidation.

Conclusion: Despite a marked weight loss and an improved aerobic capacity muscle ceramide and triacylglycerol remained unchanged after intensive life style intervention, and muscle lipids hence do not seem to play a major role for the improved glucose tolerance in these morbidly obese subjects. Interestingly, only the females improved fat oxidation during submaximal exercise after the intervention implying the presence of a sex-dependent response to intensive life style adaptation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ceramides / metabolism*
  • Diet Therapy
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Female
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Obesity, Morbid / physiopathology*
  • Obesity, Morbid / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Triglycerides / metabolism*
  • Young Adult


  • Ceramides
  • Triglycerides
  • Glucose