Repeated bouts of exercise condition muscle mitochondria to meet increased energy demand-an adaptive response associated with improved metabolic fitness. We found that the type 2 cytokine interleukin-13 (IL-13) is induced in exercising muscle, where it orchestrates metabolic reprogramming that preserves glycogen in favor of fatty acid oxidation and mitochondrial respiration. Exercise training-mediated mitochondrial biogenesis, running endurance, and beneficial glycemic effects were lost in Il13-/- mice. By contrast, enhanced muscle IL-13 signaling was sufficient to increase running distance, glucose tolerance, and mitochondrial activity similar to the effects of exercise training. In muscle, IL-13 acts through both its receptor IL-13Rα1 and the transcription factor Stat3. The genetic ablation of either of these downstream effectors reduced running capacity in mice. Thus, coordinated immunological and physiological responses mediate exercise-elicited metabolic adaptations that maximize muscle fuel economy.
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