Cardiometabolic risk markers, adipocyte fatty acid binding protein (aFABP) and the impact of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) in obese adolescents

Metabolism. 2017 Mar;68:77-87. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2016.11.015. Epub 2016 Dec 11.


Objective: The impact of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) as well as the association between the adipocyte fatty binding protein (aFABP) and cardiometabolic risk factors in overweight adolescents was investigated.

Methods: Twenty-eight adolescents (13-18years; BMI≥90th percentile according to German reference values) were offered HIIT twice weekly for 6months. At baseline and after program completion, anthropometric, clinical and metabolic characteristics were assessed and a fasting blood sample was obtained. Leptin, adiponectin, visfatin and aFABP were measured using commercially available kits. DNA methylation at RALBP1 was assessed using pyrosequencing. Descriptive statistics, Pearson's correlation and linear models were calculated.

Results: Mean age at start of the program was 15.5±1.4years (53.5% females) and 20/28 (71%) provided follow-up data. At baseline, aFABP was correlated with BMI-SDS (0.48 [0.13,0.72]; p=0.0095), waist-to-height-ratio (0.63 [0.33,0.81], p=0.00036) and body fat content (0.55 [0.21, 0.77]; p=0.0031). Certain markers of metabolic risk were significantly correlated with aFABP (HOMA-IR 0.52 [0.19, 0.75], p=0.0044; γGT 0.48 [0.13, 0.73], p=0.0091; uric acid 0.46 [0.11, 0.71] p=0.013; HDL-C -0.39 [-0.66, -0.01] p=0.043; triglycerides 0.38 [0.01, 0.66], p=0.047). With the exception of triglycerides, these associations vanished after adjusting for BMI-SDS. aFABP did not depend on sex, age or pubertal stage in obese adolescents. After the HIIT program, small but significant reductions were observed in waist-to-height-ratio, (0.013 [0.0025, 0.024]; p=0.023), skin-fold based body fat content (2.0% [0.6, 3.5]; p=0.011), and standard deviation score of systolic blood pressure (0.69 [0.26 to 1.1]; p=0.0036). No changes were observed in adipokines or epigenetic markers following the program.

Conclusion: HIIT may have beneficial effects on body composition and cardiometabolic health in overweight adolescents. Like in adults, aFABP seems to be associated with markers of metabolic risk in obese adolescents.

Keywords: Adolescence; High intensity interval training; Obesity; aFABP.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / blood
  • Adipokines / blood
  • Adiposity
  • Adolescent
  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / blood*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Fatty Acid-Binding Proteins / blood*
  • Female
  • GTPase-Activating Proteins / blood
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • High-Intensity Interval Training / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metabolic Diseases / blood*
  • Metabolic Diseases / epidemiology
  • Obesity / blood*
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Risk Factors
  • Skinfold Thickness
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Waist Circumference


  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
  • Adipokines
  • Biomarkers
  • FABP4 protein, human
  • Fatty Acid-Binding Proteins
  • GTPase-Activating Proteins
  • RALBP1 protein, human