Differential remodeling of subcutaneous white and interscapular brown adipose tissue by long-term exercise training in aged obese female mice

J Physiol Biochem. 2023 May;79(2):451-465. doi: 10.1007/s13105-023-00964-2. Epub 2023 May 19.


Obesity exacerbates aging-induced adipose tissue dysfunction. This study aimed to investigate the effects of long-term exercise on inguinal white adipose tissue (iWAT) and interscapular brown adipose tissue (iBAT) of aged obese mice. Two-month-old female mice received a high-fat diet for 4 months. Then, six-month-old diet-induced obese animals were allocated to sedentarism (DIO) or to a long-term treadmill training (DIOEX) up to 18 months of age. In exercised mice, iWAT depot revealed more adaptability, with an increase in the expression of fatty acid oxidation genes (Cpt1a, Acox1), and an amelioration of the inflammatory status, with a favorable modulation of pro/antiinflammatory genes and lower macrophage infiltration. Additionally, iWAT of trained animals showed an increment in the expression of mitochondrial biogenesis (Pgc1a, Tfam, Nrf1), thermogenesis (Ucp1), and beige adipocytes genes (Cd137, Tbx1). In contrast, iBAT of aged obese mice was less responsive to exercise. Indeed, although an increase in functional brown adipocytes genes and proteins (Pgc1a, Prdm16 and UCP1) was observed, few changes were found on inflammation-related and fatty acid metabolism genes. The remodeling of iWAT and iBAT depots occurred along with an improvement in the HOMA index for insulin resistance and in glucose tolerance. In conclusion, long-term exercise effectively prevented the loss of iWAT and iBAT thermogenic properties during aging and obesity. In iWAT, the long-term exercise program also reduced the inflammatory status and stimulated a fat-oxidative gene profile. These exercise-induced adipose tissue adaptations could contribute to the beneficial effects on glucose homeostasis in aged obese mice.

Keywords: Aging; Brown adipose tissue; Female; Obesity; Treadmill training; White adipose tissue.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue, Brown* / metabolism
  • Adipose Tissue, White* / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Female
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Obese
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Thermogenesis / genetics


  • Glucose
  • Fatty Acids