Skeletal muscle phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylethanolamine respond to exercise and influence insulin sensitivity in men

Sci Rep. 2018 Apr 25;8(1):6531. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-24976-x.


Phosphatidylcholine (PC) and phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) composition in skeletal muscle have been linked to insulin sensitivity. We evaluated the relationships between skeletal muscle PC:PE, physical exercise and insulin sensitivity. We performed lipidomics and measured PC and PE in m. vastus lateralis biopsies obtained from 13 normoglycemic normal weight men and 13 dysglycemic overweight men at rest, immediately after 45 min of cycling at 70% maximum oxygen uptake, and 2 h post-exercise, before as well as after 12 weeks of combined endurance- and strength-exercise intervention. Insulin sensitivity was monitored by euglycemic-hyperinsulinemic clamp. RNA-sequencing was performed on biopsies, and mitochondria and lipid droplets were quantified on electron microscopic images. Exercise intervention for 12 w enhanced insulin sensitivity by 33%, skeletal muscle levels of PC by 21%, PE by 42%, and reduced PC:PE by 16%. One bicycle session reduced PC:PE by 5%. PC:PE correlated negatively with insulin sensitivity (β = -1.6, P < 0.001), percent area of mitochondria (ρ = -0.52, P = 0.035), and lipid droplet area (ρ = 0.55, P = 0.017) on EM pictures, and negatively with oxidative phosphorylation and mTOR based on RNA-sequencing. In conclusion, PC and PE contents of skeletal muscle respond to exercise, and PC:PE is inversely related to insulin sensitivity.

Trial registration: NCT01803568.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Glucose Clamp Technique / methods
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology*
  • Lipid Droplets / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Oxidative Phosphorylation
  • Oxygen / metabolism
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Phosphatidylcholines / metabolism*
  • Phosphatidylethanolamines / metabolism*
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism


  • Insulin
  • Phosphatidylcholines
  • Phosphatidylethanolamines
  • phosphatidylethanolamine
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Oxygen

Associated data