Impact of a single bout of high-intensity interval exercise and short-term interval training on interleukin-6, FNDC5, and METRNL mRNA expression in human skeletal muscle

Malcolm Eaton, Cesare Granata, Julianne Barry, Adeel Safdar, David Bishop, Jonathan P. Little

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Exercise promotes numerous phenotypic adaptations in skeletal muscle that contribute to improved function and metabolic capacity. An emerging body of evidence suggests that skeletal muscle also releases a myriad of factors during exercise, termed "myokines". The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) on the acute regulation of the mRNA expression of several myokines, including the prototypical myokine interleukin-6 (IL-6), and recently identified myokines fibronectin type III domain-containing protein 5 (FNDC5) (irisin) and meteorin-like protein (METRNL). Methods: Both before and after a 20-day period of twice-daily high-volume HIIT, 9 healthy males (20.5 ± 1.5 years performed a standardized bout of high-intensity interval exercise (HIIE; 5 × 4 min at ~80% pretraining peak power output) with skeletal muscle biopsy samples (vastus lateralis) obtained at rest, immediately following exercise, and at 3 h recovery. Results: Before training, a single bout of HIIE increased IL-6 (p <. 0.05) and METRNL (p <. 0.05) mRNA expression measured at 3 h recovery when compared to rest. Following 20 days of HIIT, IL-6 and FNDC5 mRNA were increased at 3 h recovery from the standardized HIIE bout when compared to rest (both p <. 0.05). Resting METRNL and FNDC5 mRNA expression were higher following training (p <. 0.05), and there was an overall increase in FNDC5 mRNA post-training (main effect of training, p <. 0.05). Conclusion: In human skeletal muscle (1) an acute bout of HIIE can induce upregulation of skeletal muscle IL-6 mRNA both before and after a period of intensified HIIT; (2) Resting and overall FNDC5 mRNA expression is increased by 20 days of HIIT; and (3) METRNL mRNA expression is responsive to both acute HIIE and short-term intense HIIT. Future studies are needed to confirm these findings at the protein and secretion level in humans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-196
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Sport and Health Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • brown adipose tissue
  • exerkines
  • high-intensity interval training
  • intermittent exercise
  • myokine
  • obesity

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