Andonian BJ; Koss A; Koves TR; Hauser ER; Hubal MJ; Pober DM; Lord JM;MacIver NJ; St Clair EW; Muoio DM;
Kraus WE; Bartlett DB;Huffman KM;
Scientific reports [Sci Rep] 2022 May 06; Vol. 12 (1), pp. 7450.
Date of Electronic Publication: 2022 May 06.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) T cells drive autoimmune features via metabolic reprogramming that reduces oxidative metabolism. Exercise training improves cardiorespiratory fitness (i.e., systemic oxidative metabolism) and thus may impact RA T cell oxidative metabolic function. In this pilot study of RA participants, we took advantage of heterogeneous responses to a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) exercise program to identify relationships between improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness with changes in peripheral T cell and skeletal muscle oxidative metabolism. In 12 previously sedentary persons with seropositive RA, maximal cardiopulmonary exercise tests, fasting blood, and vastus lateralis biopsies were obtained before and after 10 weeks of HIIT. Following HIIT, improvements in RA cardiorespiratory fitness were associated with changes in RA CD4 + T cell basal and maximal respiration and skeletal muscle carnitine acetyltransferase (CrAT) enzyme activity. Further, changes in CD4 + T cell respiration were associated with changes in naïve CD4 + CCR7 + CD45RA + T cells, muscle CrAT, and muscle medium-chain acylcarnitines and fat oxidation gene expression profiles. In summary, modulation of cardiorespiratory fitness and molecular markers of skeletal muscle oxidative metabolism during exercise training paralleled changes in T cell metabolism. Exercise training that improves RA cardiorespiratory fitness may therefore be valuable in managing pathologically related immune and muscle dysfunction.