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Journal of Diabetes Research
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 1039161, 7 pages
Research Article

Irisin: A Potential Link between Physical Exercise and Metabolism—An Observational Study in Differently Trained Subjects, from Elite Athletes to Sedentary People

1Department of Biomedical Sciences for Health, Università degli Studi di Milano, Via L. Mangiagalli 31, 20133 Milan, Italy
2Endocrinology Unit, IRCCS Policlinico San Donato, Via R. Morandi 30, San Donato Milanese, 20097 Milan, Italy
3Laboratory of Experimental Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, IRCCS Istituto Ortopedico Galeazzi, Milan, Italy
4Vita-Salute San Raffaele University, Milan, Italy
5Diabetes Research Institute, Metabolism, Nutrigenomics and Cellular Differentiation Unit, San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Milan, Italy
6Metabolism Research Center, IRCCS Policlinico San Donato, Via R. Morandi 30, San Donato Milanese, 20097 Milan, Italy
7SMEL-1 Laboratory Medicine Unit, IRCCS Policlinico San Donato, Via R. Morandi 30, San Donato Milanese, 20097 Milan, Italy

Correspondence should be addressed to Stefano Benedini

Received 16 November 2016; Revised 10 January 2017; Accepted 1 March 2017; Published 13 March 2017

Academic Editor: Joseph F. Ndisang

Copyright © 2017 Stefano Benedini et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


We compared irisin levels among groups of differently trained healthy individuals to explore the role of irisin as a physiological linker between exercise and metabolic health. Irisin and biochemical parameters of glucose and lipid metabolism were assessed in 70 healthy volunteers stratified for sport performance level into four groups: () 20 elite athletes of national level, () 20 subelite athletes of local level, () 20 recreational athletes, and () 10 sedentary subjects. All biochemical parameters were within the ranges of normality. Fasting glucose, HOMA-IR, and total cholesterol levels were inversely related to the degree of physical activity. HbA1c was higher in elite athletes compared to all the other groups (). A U-shaped relation between free fatty acids and the degree of physical activity was observed. All groups showed similar plasma irisin levels. After correction for the degree of insulin resistance (irisin/HOMA-IR), elite athletes showed higher levels compared to sedentary and recreational subjects ( and , resp.). In addition, the number of metabolic parameters correlated with irisin increased at increasing the training status. Our study suggests a correlation between sport performance, insulin sensitivity, and irisin levels. Irisin may be one potential mediator of the beneficial effects of exercise on metabolic profile.