The study results in mice and humans show that in response to mechanical loading, muscle cells release particles called extracellular vesicles that give fat cells instructions to enter fat-burning mode.
Extracellular vesicles were initially understood as a way for cells to selectively eliminate proteins, lipids and RNA. Recently, scientists discovered that they also play a role in intercellular communication.
The study adds a new dimension to how skeletal muscle communicates with other tissues by using extracellular vesicles, says John McCarthy, Ph.D., study author and associate professor in the UK Department of Physiology.
“To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of how weight training initiates metabolic adaptations in fat tissue, which is crucial for determining whole-body metabolic outcomes,” McCarthy said. “The ability of resistance exercise-induced extracellular vesicles to improve fat metabolism has significant clinical implications.”
McCarthy’s research team was led by post-doc Ivan Vechetti, now at the University of Nebraska, in collaboration with the Center for Muscle Biology, directed by Joseph Hamburg Endowed Professor Charlotte Peterson, Ph.D.
The study was recently featured in The New York Times.