Springer Nature

Treadmill exercise has minimal impact on obesogenic diet-related gut microbiome changes but alters adipose and hypothalamic gene expression in rats

Posted on 2020-08-19 - 04:21
Abstract Background Exercise has been extensively utilised as an effective therapy for overweight- and obesity-associated changes that are linked to health complications. Several preclinical rodent studies have shown that treadmill exercise alongside an unhealthy diet improves metabolic health and microbiome composition. Furthermore, chronic exercise has been shown to alter hypothalamic and adipose tissue gene expression in diet-induced obesity. However, limited work has investigated whether treadmill exercise commenced following exposure to an obesogenic diet is sufficient to alter microbiome composition and metabolic health. Methods To address this gap in the literature, we fed rats a high-fat/high-sugar western-style cafeteria diet and assessed the effects of 4 weeks of treadmill exercise on adiposity, diet-induced gut dysbiosis, as well as hypothalamic and retroperitoneal white adipose tissue gene expression. Forty-eight male Sprague-Dawley rats were allocated to either regular chow or cafeteria diet and after 3 weeks half the rats on each diet were exposed to moderate treadmill exercise for 4 weeks while the remainder were exposed to a stationary treadmill. Results Microbial species diversity was uniquely reduced in exercising chow-fed rats, while microbiome composition was only changed by cafeteria diet. Despite limited effects of exercise on overall microbiome composition, exercise increased inferred microbial functions involved in metabolism, reduced fat mass, and altered adipose and hypothalamic gene expression. After controlling for diet and exercise, adipose Il6 expression and liver triglyceride concentrations were significantly associated with global microbiome composition. Conclusions Moderate treadmill exercise induced subtle microbiome composition changes in chow-fed rats but did not overcome the microbiome changes induced by prolonged exposure to cafeteria diet. Predicted metabolic function of the gut microbiome was increased by exercise. The effects of exercise on the microbiome may be modulated by obesity severity. Future work should investigate whether exercise in combination with microbiome-modifying interventions can synergistically reduce diet- and obesity-associated comorbidities.


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