Applied Physiology & Nutrition Research Group, Laboratory of Assessment and Conditioning in Rheumatology, School of Physical Education and Sport, School of Medicine, University of São Paulo, Brazil; Rheumatology Division, Hospital das Clínicas HCFMUSP, Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil. Electronic address: [Email]
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is characterized by exacerbated inflammation, which is implicated in cardiometabolic dysfunction. This study aimed to examine the potential effects of acute exercise on inflammatory responses in obese/overweight PCOS women and their controls. Participants underwent a single bout of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (30 min at ∼65% of VO2peak). Blood and muscle samples were collected immediately before (PRE) and 60 min after the exercise session. Cytokines (i.e., IL-1β, IL-6, IL-4, IL-10, TNF-α) were measured both in plasma and in skeletal muscle, and proteins related to inflammatory signaling (IKKα/β and JNK) were assessed in skeletal muscle. At PRE, PCOS showed elevated muscle TNF-α (+62%, p = 0.0012) and plasma IL-1β (+76%, p = 0.0010) compared to controls. In PCOS, exercise decreased plasma and muscle TNF-α (-14%, p = 0.0003 and -46%, p = 0.0003), as well as increased plasma and muscle IL-4 (+147%, p = 0.0018 and +62%, p = 0.0474) and plasma IL-10 (+38%, p = 0.0029). Additionally, IKKα/β and JNK phosphorylation in skeletal muscle, which was higher in PCOS at PRE, was significantly reduced by exercise (-58%, p < 0.0001 and -46%, p < 0.0001, respectively), approaching control levels. Person's correlations between PRE values and delta changes (i.e., exercise effect) showed significant, negative associations for plasma IL-1β (r = -0.92, p < 0.0001), TNF-α (r = -0.72, p = 0.0100) and IL-6 (r = -0.58, p = 0.05), and muscle TNF-α (r = -0.95, p < 0.0001), IKKα/β (r = -0.75, p = 0.005), and JNK (r = -0.94, p < 0.0001) in PCOS. In conclusion, exercise can mitigate the inflammatory milieu in women with PCOS. The anti-inflammatory role of exercise could underlie its cardiometabolic protection in PCOS.