Combining exercise with fasting is known to boost fat mass-loss, but detailed analysis on the consequential mobilization of visceral and subcutaneous WAT-derived fatty acids has not been performed. In this study, a subset of fasted male rats (66 h) was submitted to daily bouts of mild exercise. Subsequently, by using gas chromatography-flame ionization detection, the content of 22 fatty acids (FA) in visceral (v) versus subcutaneous (sc) white adipose tissue (WAT) depots was compared to those found in response to the separate events. Findings were related to those obtained in serum and liver samples, the latter taking up FA to increase gluconeogenesis and ketogenesis. Each separate intervention reduced scWAT FA content, associated with increased levels of adipose triglyceride lipase (ATGL) protein despite unaltered AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) Thr172 phosphorylation, known to induce ATGL expression. The mobility of FAs from vWAT during fasting was absent with the exception of the MUFA 16:1 n-7 and only induced by combining fasting with exercise which was accompanied with reduced hormone sensitive lipase (HSL) Ser563 and increased Ser565 phosphorylation, whereas ATGL protein levels were elevated during fasting in association with the persistently increased phosphorylation of AMPK at Thr172 both during fasting and in response to the combined intervention. As expected, liver FA content increased during fasting, and was not further affected by exercise, despite additional FA release from vWAT in this condition, underlining increased hepatic FA metabolism. Both fasting and its combination with exercise showed preferential hepatic metabolism of the prominent saturated FAs C:16 and C:18 compared to the unsaturated FAs 18:1 n-9 and 18:2 n-6:1. In conclusion, depot-specific differences in WAT fatty acid molecule release during fasting, irrelevant to their degree of saturation or chain length, are mitigated when combined with exercise, to provide fuel to surrounding organs such as the liver which is correlated with increased ATGL/ HSL ratios, involving AMPK only in vWAT.
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