Fat to the fire: the regulation of lipid oxidation with exercise and environmental stress
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Lipids are an important fuel for submaximal aerobic exercise. The ways in which lipid oxidation is regulated during locomotion is an area of active investigation. Indeed, the integration between cellular regulation of lipid metabolism and whole-body exercise performance is a fascinating but often overlooked research area. Additionally, the interaction between environmental stress, exercise, and lipid oxidation has not been sufficiently examined. There are many functional and structural steps as fatty acids are mobilized, transported, and oxidized in working muscle, which may serve either as regulatory points for responding to acute or chronic stimuli or as raw material for natural selection. At the whole-animal level, the partitioning of lipids and carbohydrates across exercise intensities is remarkably similar among mammals, which suggests that there is conservation in regulatory mechanisms. Conversely, the proportions of circulatory and intramuscular fuels differ between species and across exercise intensities. Responses to acute and chronic environmental stress likely involve the interaction of genetic and nongenetic changes in the fatty acid pathway. Determining which of these factors help regulate the fatty acid pathway and what impact they have on whole-animal lipid oxidation and performance is an important area of future research. Using an integrative approach to complete the information loop from gene to physiological function provides the most powerful mode of analysis.
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