Sedentary lifestyle and sugary diet more detrimental to men

A new study from the University of Missouri School of Medicine is the first evidence in humans that short-term lifestyle changes can disrupt the response to insulin of blood vessels. It’s also the first study to show men and women react differently to these changes.

Vascular insulin resistance is a feature of obesity and type 2 diabetes that contributes to vascular disease. Researchers examined vascular insulin resistance in 36 young and healthy men and women by exposing them to 10 days of reduced physical activity, cutting their step count from 10,000 to 5,000 steps per day. The participants also increased their sugary beverage intake to six cans of soda per day.

“We know that incidence of insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease is lower in premenopausal women compared to men, but we wanted to see how men and women reacted to reduced physical activity and increased sugar in their diet over a short period of time,” said Camila Manrique-Acevedo, MD, associate professor of medicine.

The results showed that only in men did the sedentary lifestyle and high sugar intake cause decreased insulin-stimulated leg blood flow and a drop in a protein called adropin, which regulates insulin sensitivity and is an important biomarker for cardiovascular disease.

“These findings underscore a sex-related difference in the development of vascular insulin resistance induced by adopting a lifestyle high in sugar and low on exercise,” said Manrique-Acevedo. “To our knowledge, this is the first evidence in humans that vascular insulin resistance can be provoked by short-term adverse lifestyle changes, and it’s the first documentation of sex-related differences in the development of vascular insulin resistance in association with changes in adropin levels.”

Manrique-Acevedo said she would next like to examine how long it takes to reverse these vascular and metabolic changes and more fully assess the impact of the role of sex in the development of vascular insulin resistance.

The entire MU research team consisted of Jaume Padilla, PhD, associate professor of nutrition and exercise physiology and co-corresponding author of this work; Luis Martinez-Lemus, DVM, PhD, professor of medical pharmacology and physiology, and R. Scott Rector, PhD, associate professor of nutrition. It also included postdoctoral fellows Rogerio Soares, PhD; and graduate students James A. Smith and Thomas Jurrissen.

Their study, “Young women are protected against vascular insulin resistance induced by adoption of an obesogenic lifestyle,” was recently published in the journal Endocrinology. Part of the support for this study was provided by the National Institutes of Health and a VA Merit Grant. The content does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding agency. The authors declare no potential conflicts of interest.

Manrique-Acevedo and her collaborators work from the Roy Blunt NextGen Precision Health building at MU, which anchors the statewide initiative to unite government and industry leaders with innovators from across the system’s four research universities in pursuit of life-changing precision health advancements. The University of Missouri System’s bold NextGen initiative highlights the promise of personalized health care and the impact of large-scale interdisciplinary collaboration.


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