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William A. Clarkson1, Jacob L. Barber1, Jeremy M. Robbins2, Prashant Rao2, Michael Mi2, Prasun K. Dev1, Sujoy Ghosh3,4, Clary Clish5, Daniel H. Katz2, Robert E. Gerszten2, Claude Bouchard, FACSM4, Mark A. Sarzynski, FACSM1. 1University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC. 2Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA. 3Duke-National University of Singapore Medical School, Singapore. 4Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, LA. 5Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, Cambridge, MA.

BACKGROUND: Although exercise training is known to improve body composition, the molecular biomarkers and mechanisms related to these changes have not been fully elucidated. The purpose of this study was to examine the associations between change in plasma proteins and change in body composition traits in response to endurance training. METHODS: Measurements were taken before and after 20 weeks of standardized, endurance training in Black and White adults of the HERITAGE Family Study (n=652). Over 5,000 plasma proteins were measured using an aptamer-affinity based platform (SomaScan). Underwater weighing, CT scans, and anthropometric measurements were used to derive the 11 body composition traits included in this study: BMI, body surface area (BSA), fat mass, fat free mass (FFM), percent fat, waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), body weight, and abdominal visceral, subcutaneous, and total fat. Linear mixed models were used to test the association between change in plasma proteins and change in each body composition trait adjusted for age, sex, race, family membership, baseline BMI, and baseline trait value with significance set to FDR<0.05. RESULTS: Subjects were 35% Black, 56% female, and on average 35 years old and overweight at baseline (mean BMI 26.4 (SD 5.3) kg/m2), with percent fat of 27.5 (10.4). All 11 traits significantly improved in response to training. Significant associations between changes in proteins and body composition were found for all traits except WHR, with 58 unique proteins identified. Weight and BSA had the most associated proteins with 43 and 40, while visceral fat and FFM had the least with 1 protein each. Leptin was the top association (range: 0.023-12) for all 9 body composition traits it associated with (excluding FFM and WHR). Changes in growth hormone receptor, secretoglobin family 3A member 1, and Protein delta homolog 1 were significantly associated with the training response of 8, 6, and 5 body composition traits, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Although dozens of proteins were associated with changes in body composition traits, 4 proteins were among the top associations for half or more of the traits (when excluding WHR). Globally, these proteins are involved in pathways such as adipogenesis, energy balance, and cell growth, which may potentially influence body composition and fat distribution traits.

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