Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Rehabilitation and Movement Science

First Advisor

Dr. R. Lee Franco

Second Advisor

Dr. Ryan Garten

Third Advisor

Dr. Salvatore Carbone

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Danielle Kirkman

Fifth Advisor

Dr. Youngdeok Kim

Sixth Advisor

Dr. John Ryan


A large percentage of adults in industrialized nations consume a Westernized dietary pattern, which contributes to fasting dyslipidemia and increased risk for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Evidence suggests that a single Westernized meal containing high saturated fat may induce alterations in blood lipids as well as disturb multiple factors regulating peripheral vascular homeostasis, including innate immune cell function, oxidative stress, and vascular function. Conversely, participation in acute and chronic exercise may beneficially impact an individual’s postprandial response. Therefore, this dissertation contains three manuscripts seeking to describe how acute exercise, cardiorespiratory fitness, and physical activity level impact the lipemic and vascular homeostatic responses to a Westernized high-saturated fat meal. Chapter 2 reviews the contributions of metabolic endotoxemia, a meal-induced increase in lipopolysaccharide, to high-fat meal-induced inflammation. Furthermore, this chapter presents available evidence as to the manipulation of this mechanism by acute and chronic exercise. Chapter 3 describes an investigation in which ex vivo modeling was employed to determine the interactive effects of both acute exercise and physical activity level on monocyte and monocyte-derived macrophage phenotype. Finally, Chapter 4 details an in vivo investigation exploring the impacts of cardiorespiratory fitness and physical activity level on postprandial lipemia, monocyte phenotype, markers of oxidative stress, and vascular hemodynamic measures in premenopausal women consuming a Westernized high-saturated fat meal.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission


Available for download on Monday, August 10, 2026