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Vitamin E and vitamin C do not reduce insulin sensitivity but inhibit mitochondrial protein expression in exercising obese rats

Matthew J. Picklo, John P. Thyfault
Applied physiology, nutrition, and metabolism 2015 v.40 no.4 pp. 343-352
adipose tissue, antioxidants, ascorbic acid, biogenesis, energy, enzymes, exercise, glucose, homeostasis, insulin, insulin resistance, mitochondria, mitochondrial DNA, nicotinamide, obesity, protein content, protein synthesis, rats, skeletal muscle, vitamin E, vitamin supplements
Controversy exists as to whether supplementation with the antioxidants vitamin E and vitamin C blocks adaptation to exercise. Exercise is a first-line means to treat obesity and its complications. While diet-induced obesity alters mitochondrial function and induces insulin resistance (IR), no data exist as to whether supplementation with vitamin E and vitamin C modify responses to exercise in pre-existing obesity. We tested the hypothesis that dietary supplementation with vitamin E (0.4 g-tocopherol acetate/kg) and vitamin C (0.5 g/kg) blocks exercise-induced improvements on IR and mitochondrial content in obese rats maintained on a high-fat (45% fat energy (en)) diet. Diet-induced obese, sedentary rats had a 2-fold higher homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance and larger insulin area under the curve following glucose tolerances test than rats fed a low-fat (10% fat en) diet. Exercising (12 weeks at 5 times per week in a motorized wheel) of obese rats normalized IR indices, an effect not modified by vitamin E and vitamin C. Vitamin E and vitamin C supplementation with exercise elevated mtDNA content in adipose and skeletal muscle to a greater extent (20%) than exercise alone in a depot-specific manner. On the other hand, vitamin C and vitamin E decreased exercise-induced increases in mitochondrial protein content for complex I (40%) and nicotinamide nucleotide transhydrogenase (35%) in a muscle-dependent manner. These data indicate that vitamin E and vitamin C supplementation in obese rodents does not modify exercise-induced improvements in insulin sensitivity but that changes in mitochondrial biogenesis and mitochondrial protein expression may be modified by antioxidant supplementation.