Mobilization of Visceral Adipose Tissue Related to the Improvement in Insulin Sensitivity in Response to Physical Training in NIDDM: Effects of branched-chain amino acid supplements

  1. Gérard Cathelineau, MD
  1. Service de Diabétologie et de Radiologie, Hôpital Tarnier Paris
  2. Hôpital Saint-Louis and the Laboratoire d'Explorations Fonctionnelles et de Physiopathologie de l'Exercice, Hôpital Tarnier Paris
  3. IMASSA, Centre d'Essais en Vol, Département de Physiologie Systémique, Brétigny sur Orge France
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to J.-F. Gautier, MD, Service d'Endocrinologie, Hopital Saint-I.ouis, 1 avenue Claude Vellefaux, 75475 Paris cedex 10, France.


OBJECTIVE To evaluate the effects of an intense physical training program on abdominal fat distribution, glycemic control, and insulin sensitivity in patients with NIDDM and to determine whether branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) supplements influence these effects.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS Twenty-four patients (ages 45 ± 2 [mean ± SE] years, BMI 30.2 ± 0.9 kg/m2, HbA1c 7.9 ± 0.3%) were randomly assigned to four groups: training plus BCAA supplement (n = 6), training plus placebo (n = 6), sedentary plus BCAA supplement (n = 6), and sedentary plus placebo (n = 6). Physical training consisted of a supervised 45-min cycling exercise at 75% of their oxygen uptake peak (VO2 peak) two times per week and an intermittent exercise one time per week for 2 months.

RESULTS Patients who exercised increased their VO2 peak by 41% and their insulin sensitivity by 46%. Physical training significantly decreased abdominal fat evaluated by magnetic resonance imaging (umbilicus), with a greater loss of visceral adipose tissue (VAT) (48%) in comparison with the loss of subcutaneous adipose tissue (18%), but did not significantly affect body weight. The change in visceral abdominal fat was associated with the improvement in insulin sensitivity (r = 0.84, P = 0.001). BCAA supplementation had no effect on abdominal fat and glucose metabolism.

CONCLUSIONS Physical training resulted in an improvement in insulin sensitivity with concomitant loss of VAT and should be included in the treatment program for patients with NIDDM.

  • Received June 5, 1996.
  • Revision received October 14, 1996.
  • Accepted October 14, 1996.
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