The molecular mechanisms behind the benefits of exercise

The molecular mechanisms behind the benefits of exercise
Credit: Thinkstock

Leading a sedentary lifestyle increases risk of developing type 2 diabetes. European scientists focused on delineating the mechanisms responsible for the beneficial effects of exercise on our metabolism.

The past years have seen a dramatic increase in the incidences of type 2 diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome. Urgent measures are required to prevent the cost of this epidemic from becoming overwhelming for healthcare systems.

Although genetic factors may predispose certain individuals to developing these conditions, environmental determinants also play a crucial part. Obesity and insulin resistance, both precursors of type 2 diabetes, arise due to an imbalance between energy intake and energy expenditure. It is now well established that regular exercise, combined with an improved diet, provides protection against the development of these conditions, as well as a first line of treatment.

The EU Exgenesis consortium aimed to provide a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms that provide these beneficial effects of exercise. Project partners analysed the effects of bed rest in young men with increased risk of type 2 diabetes due to genetic or environmental factors.

Results indicated that bed rest caused insulin resistance which could not be compensated by carriers of the TCF7L2 gene variant that predisposes to type 2 diabetes. Gene expression analysis led to the identification of genes involved in mitochondrial function and other novel genes that may be responsible for the development of insulin resistance.

Interestingly, many of the gene expression changes were different between the genetic and the environmental factor risk groups providing clues as to how these groups may respond differently to a lack of physical activity. Furthermore, epigenetic changes due to environmental factors were suggested to influence susceptibility to type 2 diabetes.

The Exgenesis project findings should lead to the identification of novel targets and treatments against type 2 diabetes, as well as encouraging new policies to promote healthier lifestyles.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Impaired fat-burning gene worsens diabetes

Feb 07, 2008

Researchers at the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet have in collaboration with researchers from Finland, China, Japan and the US discovered new cellular mechanisms that lead to in insulin resistance in people ...

Recommended for you

What are the chances that your dad isn't your dad?

Apr 16, 2014

How confident are you that the man you call dad is really your biological father? If you believe some of the most commonly-quoted figures, you could be forgiven for not being very confident at all. But how ...

New technology that is revealing the science of chewing

Apr 15, 2014

CSIRO's 3D mastication modelling, demonstrated for the first time in Melbourne today, is starting to provide researchers with new understanding of how to reduce salt, sugar and fat in food products, as well ...

After skin cancer, removable model replaces real ear

Apr 11, 2014

(HealthDay)—During his 10-year struggle with basal cell carcinoma, Henry Fiorentini emerged minus his right ear, and minus the hearing that goes with it. The good news: Today, the 56-year-old IT programmer ...

Italy scraps ban on donor-assisted reproduction

Apr 09, 2014

Italy's Constitutional Court on Wednesday struck down a Catholic Church-backed ban against assisted reproduction with sperm or egg donors that has forced thousands of sterile couples to seek help abroad.

User comments