Exercise training induces insulin-sensitizing PAHSAs in adipose tissue of elderly women

Biochim Biophys Acta Mol Cell Biol Lipids. 2020 Feb;1865(2):158576. doi: 10.1016/j.bbalip.2019.158576. Epub 2019 Nov 16.


Adverse effects of aging can be delayed with life-style interventions. We examined how exercise training (ET) alone or combined with omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) affects serum and adipose tissue (AT) lipidome in older women. Fifty-five sedentary older women were included in the physical activity program and given either sunflower (Placebo) or wax esters-rich (Calanus) oil capsules for 4 months. Serum and subcutaneous abdominal AT samples were acquired while maximum rates of oxygen consumption (VO2 max), insulin sensitivity (hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamps) and comprehensive lipidome profiles were determined before and after the study. ET increased VO2 max in both groups. Lipidomics profiling revealed unusual serum triacylglycerols and phospholipids with ether-bound alkyls in the Calanus group, while ET generally induced shorter-chain triacylglycerols in AT, suggesting increased de novo lipogenesis. The latter was positively associated with whole-body insulin sensitivity. Unexpectedly, insulin-sensitizing lipokines from the family of branched palmitic acid esters of hydroxy stearic acid (PAHSAs) were elevated in both serum and AT after ET, while PAHSAs-containing triacylglycerols were detected in AT. ET stimulated beneficial changes in AT, including PAHSAs synthesis. Although the added value of omega-3 PUFA supplementation was not proven, our discovery can help understand the nature of the metabolic benefits of exercise.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03386461.

Keywords: Adipose tissue; Elderly women; Ether lipids; Exercise; FAHFA; FAHFA-TG; Lipidomics; Lipokine; Mass spectrometry; Omega-3 fatty acids; PAHSA.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Esters / metabolism
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Lipidomics
  • Lipogenesis / physiology
  • Metabolic Syndrome / metabolism
  • Metabolic Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Metabolic Syndrome / prevention & control*
  • Palmitic Acid / metabolism
  • Stearic Acids / metabolism
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Esters
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Insulin
  • Stearic Acids
  • Palmitic Acid
  • stearic acid

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03386461