Beneficial Effect of Voluntary Exercise on Experimental Colitis in Mice Fed a High-Fat Diet: The Role of Irisin, Adiponectin and Proinflammatory Biomarkers

Nutrients. 2017 Apr 20;9(4):410. doi: 10.3390/nu9040410.


Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) are a heterogeneous group of disorders exhibited by two major phenotypic forms: Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Although the aetiology of IBD is unknown, several factors coming from the adipose tissue and skeletal muscles, such as cytokines, adipokines and myokines, were suggested in the pathogenesis of ulcerative colitis; however, it has not been extensively studied whether voluntary exercise can ameliorate that disorder. We explored the effect of moderate exercise (i.e., voluntary wheel running) on the disease activity index (DAI), colonic blood flow (CBF), plasma irisin and adiponectin levels and real-time PCR expression of proinflammatory markers in mesenteric fat in mice with 2,4,6-trinitrobenzenesulfonic acid (TNBS) colitis fed a high-fat diet (HFD) compared to those on a standard chow diet (SD). Macroscopic and microscopic colitis in sedentary SD mice was accompanied by a significant fall in CBF, some increase in colonic tissue weight and a significant increase in the plasma levels of tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), IL-6, monocyte chemotactic protein 1 (MCP-1) and IL-13 (p < 0.05). In sedentary HFD mice, colonic lesions were aggravated, colonic tissue weight increased and the plasma TNF-α, IL-6, MCP-1, IL-1β and leptin levels significantly increased. Simultaneously, a significant decrease in the plasma irisin and adiponectin levels was observed in comparison with SD mice (p < 0.05). Exercise significantly decreased macroscopic and microscopic colitis, substantially increased CBF and attenuated the plasma TNF-α, IL-6, MCP-1, IL-1β and leptin levels while raising the plasma irisin and the plasma and WAT concentrations of adiponectin in HFD mice (p < 0.05). We conclude that: (1) experimental colitis is exacerbated in HFD mice, possibly due to a fall in colonic microcirculation and an increase in the plasma and mesenteric fat content of proinflammatory biomarkers; and (2) voluntary physical activity can attenuate the severity of colonic damage in mice fed a HFD through the release of protective irisin and restoration of plasma adiponectin.

Keywords: adiponectin; colitis; colonic blood flow; diet-induced obesity; inflammation; interleukin-6; irisin; myokines; tumour necrosis factor-alpha; voluntary exercise.

MeSH terms

  • Adiponectin / blood*
  • Adiposity
  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Chemokine CCL2 / blood
  • Colitis / blood*
  • Colitis / chemically induced
  • Colitis / therapy*
  • Colon / metabolism
  • Diet, High-Fat
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Fibronectins / blood*
  • Interleukin-13 / blood
  • Interleukin-1beta / blood
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Leptin / blood
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / blood


  • Adiponectin
  • Biomarkers
  • Ccl2 protein, mouse
  • Chemokine CCL2
  • FNDC5 protein, mouse
  • Fibronectins
  • IL1B protein, human
  • Interleukin-13
  • Interleukin-1beta
  • Interleukin-6
  • Leptin
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • interleukin-6, mouse