Previous studies suggest that sex differences in lipid metabolism exist with females demonstrating a higher utilization of lipids during exercise, which is mediated partly by increased utilization of muscle triglycerides. However, whether these changes in lipid metabolism contribute directly to endurance exercise performance is unclear. Therefore, the objective of this study was to investigate the contribution of exercise substrate metabolism to sex differences in endurance exercise capacity (EEC) in mice. Male and female C57BL/6-NCrl mice were subjected to an EEC test until exhaustion on a motorized treadmill. The treadmill was set at a 10% incline, and the speed gradually increased from 10.2 m/min to 22.2 m/min at fixed intervals for up to 2.5 h. Tissues and blood were harvested in mice immediately following the EEC. A cohort of sedentary, non-exercised male and female mice were used as controls. Females outperformed males by ~25% on the EEC. Serum levels of both fatty acids and ketone bodies were ~50% higher in females at the end of the EEC. In sedentary female mice, skeletal muscle triglyceride content was significantly greater compared to sedentary males. Gene expression analysis demonstrated that genes involved in skeletal muscle fatty acid oxidation were significantly higher in females with no changes in genes associated with glucose uptake or ketone body oxidation. The findings suggest that female mice have a higher endurance exercise capacity and a greater ability to mobilize and utilize fatty acids for energy.
Holcomb, L. E., Rowe, P., O’Neill, C. C., DeWitt, E. A., & Kolwicz, S. C. Jr. (2022). Sex differences in endurance exercise capacity and skeletal muscle lipid metabolism in mice. Physiological Reports, 10, e15174. https://doi.org/10.14814/phy2.15174
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