Objective: Circulating endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) correlate negatively with obesity. Previous studies have shown that exercise significantly restores circulating EPC levels in obese people; however, the underlying mechanisms have not been elucidated. Recently, irisin has been reported to have a critical role in the regulation of EPCs. This exercise-induced myokine has been demonstrated to play a therapeutic role in obesity. In this study, we hypothesized that the increase in circulating irisin may form a link with increasing EPC levels in obese people after exercise.
Methods: Seventeen obese adults completed an 8-week program of combined exercise and dietary intervention. Clinical characteristics, blood biochemistry, and circulating irisin levels of subjects were measured before and after eight weeks of training. EPC levels were evaluated via flow cytometry, and EPC migratory and adhesive functions were also determined.
Results: Circulating irisin levels significantly increased following the 8-week training program (P < 0.05). We furthermore observed an improvement in EPC numbers (P < 0.05), and EPC migratory and adhesive functions (P < 0.001 and P < 0.05, respectively) after the intervention. Additionally, we detected a positive correlation between changes in irisin and changes in EPC number (r = 0.52, P < 0.05).
Discussion: For the first time, a positive correlation between increasing irisin levels and increasing EPC levels has been reported after an 8-week program, consisting of exercise and dietary intervention. This result suggests a novel effect of irisin on the regulation of EPC mobilization, which might contribute to improvement of endothelial function in obese people.
Keywords: Diet; Endothelial function; Endothelial progenitor cells; Exercise; Irisin; Obesity.