Exercise-Induced Alterations in Skeletal Muscle, Heart, Liver, and Serum Metabolome Identified by Non-Targeted Metabolomics Analysis
BACKGROUND: The metabolic and physiologic responses to exercise are increasingly interesting, given that regular physical activity enhances antioxidant capacity, improves cardiac function, and protects against type 2 diabetes. The metabolic interactions between tissues and the heart illustrate a critical cross-talk we know little about.
METHODS: To better understand the metabolic changes induced by exercise, we investigated skeletal muscle (plantaris, soleus), liver, serum, and heart from exercise trained (or sedentary control) animals in an established rat model of exercise-induced aerobic training via non-targeted GC-MS metabolomics.
RESULTS: Exercise-induced alterations in metabolites varied across tissues, with the soleus and serum affected the least. The alterations in the plantaris muscle and liver were most alike, with two metabolites increased in each (citric acid/isocitric acid and linoleic acid). Exercise training additionally altered nine other metabolites in the plantaris (C13 hydrocarbon, inosine/adenosine, fructose-6-phosphate, glucose-6-phosphate, 2-aminoadipic acid, heptadecanoic acid, stearic acid, alpha-tocopherol, and oleic acid). In the serum, we identified significantly decreased alpha-tocopherol levels, paralleling the increases identified in plantaris muscle. Eleven unique metabolites were increased in the heart, which were not affected in the other compartments (malic acid, serine, aspartic acid, myoinositol, glutamine, gluconic acid-6-phosphate, glutamic acid, pyrophosphate, campesterol, phosphoric acid, creatinine). These findings complement prior studies using targeted metabolomics approaches to determine the metabolic changes in exercise-trained human skeletal muscle. Specifically, exercise trained vastus lateralus biopsies had significantly increased linoleic acid, oleic acid, and stearic acid compared to the inactive groups, which were significantly increased in plantaris muscle in the present study.
CONCLUSIONS: While increases in alpha-tocopherol have not been identified in muscle after exercise to our knowledge, the benefits of vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) supplementation in attenuating exercise-induced muscle damage has been studied extensively. Skeletal muscle, liver, and the heart have primarily different metabolic changes, with few similar alterations and rare complementary alterations (alpha-tocopherol), which may illustrate the complexity of understanding exercise at the organismal level.