Skin autofluorescence is associated with arterial stiffness and insulin level in endurance runners and healthy controls - Effects of aging and endurance exercise

Exp Gerontol. 2017 May;91:9-14. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2017.02.002. Epub 2017 Feb 9.


Background: Life-long regular endurance exercise yields positive effects on cardiovascular and metabolic function, disease and mortality rate. Glycation may be a major mechanism behind age-related diseases. However, it remains unknown if skin autofluorescence (SAF), which reflects glycation, is related to arterial and metabolic function in life-long endurance runners and sedentary controls.

Methods: Healthy elderly men: 15 life-long endurance runners (OT) (64±4years) and 12 old untrained (OU) (66±4years), and healthy young men; ten young athletes (YT) (26±4years) matched to OT for running distance, and 12 young untrained (YU) (24±3years) were recruited. Endothelial function (reactive hyperemia index, RHI) and arterial stiffness (augmentation index, AI@75 and AI) were measured by an operator-independent PAT 2000. SAF was non-invasively determined using an autofluorescence spectrometer.

Results: For AI@75 there was an effect of age (p<0.0001), but not training (p=0.71). There was an interaction for endothelial function (p<0.05): YT had higher RHI than YU (p<0.05) and OU (p<0.01). SAF was associated with arterial stiffness (r2=0.57, p<0.001), insulin and HOMA-index levels after age correction (both r2=0.19, p<0.05).

Conclusions: To our knowledge, these are the first data to show that skin autofluorescence (SAF) is linked to human arterial stiffness and insulin resistance in well-trained elderly and young men as well as sedentary controls. SAF may in the future be a helpful tool to predict vascular and metabolic dysfunction (early signs of aging and pathology). Surprisingly, endurance running only had modest effects on cardiovascular function compared to lean healthy controls.

Keywords: Aging; Endothelial function; Glycation; Running; Skin autofluorescence; Vascular stiffness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Athletes*
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Denmark
  • Exercise Tolerance
  • Fluorescence
  • Glycation End Products, Advanced / analysis
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Insulins / blood*
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reference Values
  • Running*
  • Skin / pathology*
  • Vascular Stiffness*
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • Glycation End Products, Advanced
  • Insulins