Exercise Training Modulates Gut Microbiota Profile and Improves Endotoxemia

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2020 Jan;52(1):94-104. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000002112.


Introduction: Intestinal metabolism and microbiota profiles are impaired in obesity and insulin resistance. Moreover, dysbiotic gut microbiota has been suggested to promote systemic low-grade inflammation and insulin resistance through the release of endotoxins particularly lipopolysaccharides. We have previously shown that exercise training improves intestinal metabolism in healthy men. To understand whether changes in intestinal metabolism interact with gut microbiota and its release of inflammatory markers, we studied the effects of sprint interval (SIT) and moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT) on intestinal metabolism and microbiota in subjects with insulin resistance.

Methods: Twenty-six, sedentary subjects (prediabetic, n = 9; type 2 diabetes, n = 17; age, 49 [SD, 4] yr; body mass index, 30.5 [SD, 3]) were randomized into SIT or MICT. Intestinal insulin-stimulated glucose uptake (GU) and fatty acid uptake (FAU) from circulation were measured using positron emission tomography. Gut microbiota composition was analyzed by 16S rRNA gene sequencing and serum inflammatory markers with multiplex assays and enzyme-linked immunoassay kit.

Results: V˙O2peak improved only after SIT (P = 0.01). Both training modes reduced systematic and intestinal inflammatory markers (tumor necrosis factor-α, lipopolysaccharide binding protein) (time P < 0.05). Training modified microbiota profile by increasing Bacteroidetes phylum (time P = 0.03) and decreasing Firmicutes/Bacteroidetes ratio (time P = 0.04). Moreover, there was a decrease in Clostridium genus (time P = 0.04) and Blautia (time P = 0.051). Only MICT decreased jejunal FAU (P = 0.02). Training had no significant effect on intestinal GU. Colonic GU associated positively with Bacteroidetes and inversely with Firmicutes phylum, ratio Firmicutes/Bacteroidetes and Blautia genus.

Conclusions: Intestinal substrate uptake associates with gut microbiota composition and whole-body insulin sensitivity. Exercise training improves gut microbiota profiles and reduces endotoxemia.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01344928.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute-Phase Proteins / metabolism
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Body Mass Index
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism*
  • Endotoxemia / metabolism*
  • Endotoxemia / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Physical Conditioning, Human / methods*
  • Prediabetic State / metabolism*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism


  • Acute-Phase Proteins
  • Biomarkers
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • TNF protein, human
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • lipopolysaccharide-binding protein

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01344928