Exercise training in ordinary people affects the activity of 500 genes

05/02/05

A new study from Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm shows that hundreds of genes in the thigh muscle are activated in regular cycle training. The study also reveals that great differences in training response may be due to the ability in some people to activate their genes much more forcefully. The study is published May 2 in FASEB Journal.

It is common knowledge that it is very dangerous to be inactive and that regular physical activity brings health, improves quality of life and extends life span. How these positive effects are created in the body is not known. Influences on gene activity in the heart, vessels and muscles are probably immensely important.

In this study, the first of its kind, Drs James Timmons, Carl J Sundberg and co-workers show that hundreds of genes are activated by regular cycle training for six weeks in young healthy men. Some of these genes are most likely linked to diabetes and cardiovascular disease. These training study findings can therefore be important for the development of new treatment strategies for such diseases.

Some people respond more easily to training than others. It is not known what explains this. The results from the training study show that those individuals that improved their performance most also activated several genes in the muscles markedly more. This has not been shown before.

Finally, the researchers made a comparison between the effects of endurance training and the situation in patients with Duchenne's muscle dystrophy, a muscle wasting disease. Most of the muscle genes previously claimed to be specific for Duchenne were also activated with endurance training. Maybe the musculature in Duchenne patients strive to adapt in part similar to what happens in training. The results from this study will help to clarify which genes are uniquely affected in Duchenne.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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