The influence of adiposity and acute exercise on circulating hepatokines in normal-weight and overweight/obese men

Jack A. Sargeant, Guruprasad P. Aithal, Toshinari Takamura, Hirofumi Misu, Hiroaki Takayama, Jessica A. Douglas, Mark C. Turner, David J. Stensel, Myra A. Nimmo, David R. Webb, Thomas Yates, James A. King

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49 Citations (Scopus)
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Hepatokines are liver-secreted proteins with potential to influence glucose regulation and other metabolic parameters. This study investigated differences in adiposity status on 5 novel hepatokines and characterised their response to acute moderate-intensity exercise in groups of normal-weight and overweight/obese men. Twenty-two men were recruited into normal-weight and overweight/obese groups (body mass index: 18.5 to 24.9 and 25.0 to 34.9 kg·m−2). Each completed 2 experimental trials, exercise and control. During exercise trials, participants performed 60 min of moderate-intensity treadmill exercise (~60% peak oxygen uptake) and then rested for 6 h. Participants rested throughout control trials. Circulating fibroblast growth factor-21 (FGF21), follistatin, leukocyte cell-derived chemotaxin 2 (LECT2), fetuin-A, and selenoprotein-P (SeP) were measured throughout. Fasted (resting) FGF21 and LECT2 were higher in overweight/obese individuals (129% and 55%; P ≤ 0.01) and correlated with indices of adiposity and insulin resistance; whereas circulating follistatin was lower in overweight/obese individuals throughout trial days (17%, P < 0.05). In both groups, circulating concentrations of FGF21 and follistatin were transiently elevated after exercise for up to 6 h (P ≤ 0.02). Circulating fetuin-A and SeP were no different between groups (P ≥ 0.19) and, along with LECT2, were unaffected by exercise (P ≥ 0.06). These findings show that increased adiposity is associated with a modified hepatokine profile, which may represent a novel mechanism linking excess adiposity to metabolic health. Furthermore, acute perturbations in circulating FGF21 and follistatin after exercise may contribute to the health benefits of an active lifestyle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)482-490
Number of pages9
JournalApplied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism
Issue number5
Early online date8 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - May 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Insulin resistance
  • Liver
  • Obesity
  • Organokines
  • Physical activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Physiology (medical)


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