Metabolite patterns associated with individual response to supervised exercise therapy in patients with intermittent claudication

Tiffany R. Bellomo, Noah L. Tsao, Hillary Johnston-Cox, Kamil Borkowski, Gabrielle Shakt, Renae Judy, Jonni Moore, Sarah J. Ractcliffe, Oliver Fiehn, Thomas F. Floyd, Felix W. Wehrli, Emile Mohler, John W. Newman, Scott M. Damrauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Supervised exercise therapy (SET) is the first line treatment for intermittent claudication owing to peripheral arterial disease. Despite multiple randomized controlled trials proving the efficacy of SET, there are large differences in individual patient's responses. We used plasma metabolomics to identify potential metabolic influences on the individual response to SET. Methods: Primary metabolites, complex lipids, and lipid mediators were measured on plasma samples taken at before and after Gardner graded treadmill walking tests that were administered before and after 12 weeks of SET. We used an ensemble modeling approach to identify metabolites or changes in metabolites at specific time points that associated with interindividual variability in the functional response to SET. Specific time points analyzed included baseline metabolite levels before SET, dynamic metabolomics changes before SET, the difference in pre- and post-SET baseline metabolomics, and the difference (pre- and post-SET) of the dynamic (pre- and post-treadmill). Results: High levels of baseline anandamide levels pre- and post-SET were associated with a worse response to SET. Increased arachidonic acid (AA) and decreased levels of the AA precursor dihomo-γ-linolenic acid across SET were associated with a worse response to SET. Participants who were able to tolerate large increases in AA during acute exercise had longer, or better, walking times both before and after SET. Conclusions: We identified two pathways of relevance to individual response to SET that warrant further study: anandamide synthesis may activate endocannabinoid receptors, resulting in worse treadmill test performance. SET may train patients to withstand higher levels of AA, and inflammatory signaling, resulting in longer walking times. Clinical Relevance: This manuscript describes the use of metabolomic techniques to measure the interindividual effects of SET in patients with peripheral artery disease (PAD). We identified high levels of AEA are linked to CB1 signaling and activation of inflammatory pathways. This alters energy expenditure in myoblasts by decreasing glucose uptake and may induce an acquired skeletal muscle myopathy. SET may also help participants tolerate increased levels of AA and inflammation produced during exercise, resulting in longer walking times. This data will enhance understanding of the pathophysiology of PAD and the mechanism by which SET improves walking intolerance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-388
Number of pages10
JournalJVS-Vascular Science
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • Endocannabinoid signaling
  • Lipid mediators
  • Metabolomics
  • Peripheral artery disease
  • Supervised exercise therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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