Background: Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are protein modifications that are predominantly formed from dicarbonyl compounds that arise from glucose and lipid metabolism. AGEs and sedentary behavior have been identified as a driver of accelerated (vascular) aging. The effect of physical activity on AGE accumulation is unknown. Therefore, we investigated whether plasma AGEs and dicarbonyl levels are different across older individuals that were active or sedentary and whether plasma AGEs are affected by high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

Methods: We included healthy older active (HA, n=38, 44.7% female, 60.1 ± 7.7 years old) and healthy older sedentary (HS, n=36, 72.2% female, 60.0 ± 7.3 years old) individuals as well as older sedentary individuals with increased cardiovascular risk (SR, n=84, 50% female, 58.7 ± 6.6 years old). The SR group was randomized into a 12-week walking-based HIIT program or control group. We measured protein-bound and free plasma AGEs and dicarbonyls by ultra-performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (UPLC-MS/MS) at baseline and after the HIIT intervention.

Results: Protein-bound AGE Nε-(carboxymethyl)lysine (CML) was lower in SR (2.6 ± 0.5 μmol/l) and HS (3.1 ± 0.5 μmol/l) than in HA (3.6 ± 0.6 μmol/l; P<0.05) and remained significantly lower after adjustment for several potential confounders. None of the other glycation markers were different between HS and HA. HIIT did not change plasma AGEs and dicarbonyls in SR.

Discussion: Although lifestyle interventions may act as important modulators of cardiovascular risk, HIIT is not a potent short-term intervention to reduce glycation in older individuals, underlining the need for other approaches, such as pharmacological agents, to reduce AGEs and lower cardiovascular risk in this population.

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