The Impact of Long-term Physical Inactivity on Adipose Tissue Immunometabolism

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2022 Jan 1;107(1):177-191. doi: 10.1210/clinem/dgab647.


Context: Adipose tissue and physical inactivity both influence metabolic health and systemic inflammation, but how adipose tissue responds to chronic physical inactivity is unknown.

Objective: This work aimed to characterize the impact of chronic physical inactivity on adipose tissue in healthy, young males.

Methods: We collected subcutaneous adipose tissue from 20 healthy, young men before and after 60 days of complete bed rest with energy intake reduced to maintain energy balance and fat mass. We used RNA sequencing, flow cytometry, ex vivo tissue culture, and targeted protein analyses to examine adipose tissue phenotype.

Results: Our results indicate that the adipose tissue transcriptome, stromal cellular compartment, and insulin signaling protein abundance are largely unaffected by bed rest when fat mass is kept stable. However, there was an increase in the circulating concentration of several adipokines, including plasma leptin, which was associated with inactivity-induced increases in plasma insulin and absent from adipose tissue cultured ex vivo under standardized culture conditions.

Conclusion: Physical inactivity-induced disturbances to adipokine concentrations such as leptin, without changes to fat mass, could have profound metabolic implications outside a clinical facility when energy intake is not tightly controlled.

Trial registration: NCT03594799.

Keywords: Adipose tissue; immunometabolism; physical inactivity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Basal Metabolism / immunology*
  • Bed Rest
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / blood
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Leptin / blood
  • Leptin / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Subcutaneous Fat / immunology
  • Subcutaneous Fat / metabolism*
  • Young Adult


  • LEP protein, human
  • Leptin

Associated data

  • figshare/10.6084/m9.figshare.15138231