A novel role for subcutaneous adipose tissue in exercise-induced improvements in glucose homeostasis

Diabetes. 2015 Jun;64(6):2002-14. doi: 10.2337/db14-0704. Epub 2015 Jan 20.


Exercise training improves whole-body glucose homeostasis through effects largely attributed to adaptations in skeletal muscle; however, training also affects other tissues, including adipose tissue. To determine whether exercise-induced adaptations to adipose tissue contribute to training-induced improvements in glucose homeostasis, subcutaneous white adipose tissue (scWAT) from exercise-trained or sedentary donor mice was transplanted into the visceral cavity of sedentary recipients. Remarkably, 9 days post-transplantation, mice receiving scWAT from exercise-trained mice had improved glucose tolerance and enhanced insulin sensitivity compared with mice transplanted with scWAT from sedentary or sham-treated mice. Mice transplanted with scWAT from exercise-trained mice had increased insulin-stimulated glucose uptake in tibialis anterior and soleus muscles and brown adipose tissue, suggesting that the transplanted scWAT exerted endocrine effects. Furthermore, the deleterious effects of high-fat feeding on glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity were completely reversed if high-fat-fed recipient mice were transplanted with scWAT from exercise-trained mice. In additional experiments, voluntary exercise training by wheel running for only 11 days resulted in profound changes in scWAT, including the increased expression of ∼1,550 genes involved in numerous cellular functions including metabolism. Exercise training causes adaptations to scWAT that elicit metabolic improvements in other tissues, demonstrating a previously unrecognized role for adipose tissue in the beneficial effects of exercise on systemic glucose homeostasis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue, White / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal / physiology*
  • Subcutaneous Fat / metabolism*


  • Blood Glucose