Introduction: Fetuin-A is a novel hepatokine, and there is preliminary evidence that it may contribute to the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes. Exercise reduces fetuin-A, but the specific metabolic effects particularly as they relate to the regulation of insulin resistance are unknown. This led us to examine the effect of exercise training on circulating fetuin-A in relation to skeletal muscle and/or hepatic insulin resistance in obese adults.
Methods: Twenty older adults (66.3 ± 0.9 yr; body mass index, 34.1 ± 1.2 kg·m−2) participated in this prospective 12-wk study and underwent supervised exercise training (5 d·wk−1, 60 min·d−1 at approximately 85% HRmax). Insulin resistance was assessed using the euglycemic–hyperinsulinemic clamp (40 mU·m−2·min−1) with isotope dilution ([6,6-2H2]-glucose). Skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity (rate of glucose disposal), hepatic insulin resistance (rate of glucose appearance × fasting insulin), metabolic flexibility (respiratory quotientclamp − respiratory quotientfasting), fetuin-A, high-molecular weight adiponectin, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, leptin, and body fat (dual energy x-ray absorptiometry) were measured before and after the intervention.
Results: Exercise reduced body fat, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, leptin and hepatic as well as skeletal muscle insulin resistance (each, P < 0.05). Fetuin-A was decreased by approximately 8% (pre, 1.01 ± 0.08, vs post, 0.89 ± 0.06 g·L−1; P < 0.05) after the intervention, and lower fetuin-A after exercise correlated with lower hepatic insulin resistance (r = −0.46, P < 0.01), increased metabolic flexibility (r = −0.70, P < 0.01) and high-molecular weight adiponectin (r = −0.57, P < 0.01).
Conclusions: Fetuin-A may contribute to exercise training-induced improvements in hepatic insulin resistance, CHO utilization, and inflammation in older obese adults. Further work is required to determine the cellular mechanism(s) of action for fetuin-A because this hepatokine is related to type 2 diabetes risk.