Physical Exercise Reduces Circulating Lipopolysaccharide and TLR4 Activation and Improves Insulin Signaling in Tissues of DIO Rats

  1. Mario J.A. Saad
  1. Department of Internal Medicine, State University of Campinas, Campinas, SP, Brazil
  1. Corresponding author: Mario J.A. Saad, msaad{at}


OBJECTIVE Insulin resistance in diet-induced obesity (DIO) is associated with a chronic systemic low-grade inflammation, and Toll–like receptor 4 (TLR4) plays an important role in the link among insulin resistance, inflammation, and obesity. The current study aimed to analyze the effect of exercise on TLR4 expression and activation in obese rats and its consequences on insulin sensitivity and signaling.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS The effect of chronic and acute exercise was investigated on insulin sensitivity, insulin signaling, TLR4 activation, c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK) and IκB kinase (IKKβ) activity, and lipopolysaccharide (LPS) serum levels in tissues of DIO rats.

RESULTS The results showed that chronic exercise reduced TLR4 mRNA and protein expression in liver, muscle, and adipose tissue. However, both acute and chronic exercise blunted TLR4 signaling in these tissues, including a reduction in JNK and IKKβ phosphorylation and IRS-1 serine 307 phosphorylation, and, in parallel, improved insulin-induced IR, IRS-1 tyrosine phosphorylation, and Akt serine phosphorylation, and reduced LPS serum levels.

CONCLUSIONS Our results show that physical exercise in DIO rats, both acute and chronic, induces an important suppression in the TLR4 signaling pathway in the liver, muscle, and adipose tissue, reduces LPS serum levels, and improves insulin signaling and sensitivity. These data provide considerable progress in our understanding of the molecular events that link physical exercise to an improvement in inflammation and insulin resistance.


  • Received December 30, 2009.
  • Accepted November 13, 2010.

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