The accumulation of intramyocellular lipid (IMCL) and extramyocellular lipid (EMCL) is associated with arterial stiffness in middle-aged and older adults. Habitual aerobic exercise induces the improvement of arterial stiffness with reduction in fat accumulation.
However, the relationship between aerobic exercise-induced changes in muscular lipids and arterial stiffness remains unclear. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether habitual aerobic exercise-induced changes in IMCL and EMCL content would lead to an improvement of arterial stiffness. First, in a cross-sectional study, we investigated whether cardiorespiratory fitness level affects the association between IMCL or EMCL content and arterial stiffness in 60 middle-aged and older subjects (61.0 ± 1.3 years).
Second, in an intervention study, we examined whether aerobic exercise training-induced changes in IMCL and EMCL content are associated with a reduction in arterial stiffness in 18 middle-aged and older subjects (67.0 ± 1.7 years). In the cross-sectional study, IMCL content was negatively correlated with brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity (baPWV) (r = -0.47, P<0.05), whereas EMCL content was positively correlated with baPWV (r = 0.48, P<0.05) in the low-fitness group, but was not correlated in the high-fitness group. Furthermore, 8-week aerobic exercise training in older adults increased IMCL content and reduced EMCL content. The training-induced change in baPWV was negatively correlated with training-induced changes in IMCL but was positively correlated with training-induced changes in EMCL. These findings suggest that aerobic exercise training-induced changes in IMCL and EMCL content may be related to a reduction in arterial stiffness in middle-aged and older adults.