Moderate exercise helps fight inflammation on a cellular level

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A new study has found that moderate exercise reduces inflammatory markers by altering gene expression in bone marrow cells. Geber86/Getty Images
  • Researchers studied the effects of exercise on inflammation in mice.
  • They found that regular moderate exercise reduced inflammatory markers in mice.
  • This was due to epigenetic changes affecting the expression of genes responsible for the inflammatory responses of some immune cells.
  • More studies are needed to see if these findings translate to humans.

Inflammation occurs when the body’s immune system has a reaction. This could pertain to pathogens such as germs, foreign bodies, and anything else the immune system recognizes as foreign.

While it can be crucial for restoration tissue and healing, excessive and chronic inflammation can result in conditions such as cancer, diabetesAND neurodegenerative disease.

Studies have shown that exercise can modulate the immune system. Research Shows that moderate-intensity exercise exerts anti-inflammatory effects. Various mechanisms have been proposed to explain how exercise exerts these effects, including decreased fat mass and impaired function of immune cells known as macrophages.

How exactly exercise induces these inflammation-reducing changes, however, remains unknown. Further research into how this occurs could inform treatment and prevention options for inflammation-related health conditions.

Recently, researchers have explored how macrophages present in bone marrow are changed after exercise to induce anti-inflammatory effects.

They found that regular moderate exercise reduced the inflammatory response by rewiring metabolic and epigenetic function in macrophages.

Dr Ali Abdul-Sater, associate professor of immunology and physiology at York University, Canada, one of the authors of the studies, said Medical News Today:

Obviously, different people would require different exercise programs after taking into account their specific conditions. However, overall, I think what this tells us is that engaging in moderate and regular exercise will likely educate the immune cells in active individuals so that they have a more balanced inflammatory response when exposed to an infection or injury. .

The study was published in Cellular physiology.

For the study, the researchers collected female mice and divided them into two groups: one that exercised on a treadmill for an hour a day and the other that didn’t exercise at all. Both exercise regimens lasted eight weeks.

The researchers harvested bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMDMs) from both sets of mice and conducted various tests to evaluate their inflammatory and antiviral responses.

Ultimately, they found that the gene expression of inflammatory genes in the BMDMs of exercised mice was significantly lower than that of sedentary controls, due to changes in the accessibility of those genes for transcription.

The researchers also noted that exercise inhibited other inflammation-related pathways compared to controls.

To understand why this might be the case, the researchers looked at the effects of exercise on mitochondrial function in BMDMs. Mitochondria play a significant role in metabolic processes that control inflammation and macrophage activation.

They found that moderate exercise reduced oxidative stress in BMDMs and improved overall mitochondrial quality in BMDMs. These improvements, they noted, occurred similar to how mitochondria adjust in muscle cells after exercise.

The researchers then wanted to see if these effects could be sustained long-term. To do so, they examined the BMDMs of exercised mice after they stopped exercising. After exercise was stopped for two weeks, both oxidative stress and mitochondrial potential decreased to sedentary levels.

Dr. Isabelle Amigues, a rheumatology specialist in Denver, CO, was not involved in the study, she said MNT extension:

Overweight and obesity are well known causes of pro-inflammatory states. Any prolonged inflammatory state can cause dysfunction in the immune system. For example, being overweight and obese is a known risk factor for developing psoriatic arthritis or cancer.

Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, a board-certified internist not involved in the study, said MNT extension that inflammation may also increase your risk of weight gain.

Usually, acute infections such as pneumonia [] increase the burning of fat cells for energy, causing weight loss, explained Dr. Teitelbaum.

But, after these infections and inflammations become chronic, as seen in postinfectious causes and other causes of chronic fatigue syndrome like long-term COVID, a series of changes cause weight gain.

Two of our internal studies showed an average weight gain of 32 pounds in people with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. We can expect to see it start to show up in the coming years as another devastating effect of Long COVID, added Dr. Teitelbaum.

When asked how inflammation might increase weight gain, Dr. Teitelbaum noted many possible causes. Among them, he said inflammation can increase the production of the stress hormone cortisol, which causes insulin resistance and weight gain.

[Weight gain may also occur if the body attempts] to conserve energy in the face of inflammation, resulting in what is called thyroid T3 receptor resistance. Basically, the body becomes deaf to thyroid hormone, suppressing metabolism and causing hypothyroidism, [which is linked to weight increase largely through salt and water retention] despite normal laboratory tests.

Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, internist

MNT extension he also spoke with Dr. Tejasav Sehrawat, resident internal medicine physician at Yale University School of Medicine, who was not involved in the study.

The pathway that the authors elegantly describe in this study is the same pathway that, when targeted against the causes of fatty liver disease in our Education at the Mayo Clinic it helped treat the condition, Dr. Sehrawat said.

It is also the same path which is triggered by alcohol abuse and the damage that is further inflicted on the body. This demonstrates the far-reaching implications of understanding and further developing these concepts that we can try to effectively target chronic inflammatory diseases, he added.

When asked about the study’s limitations, Dr. Teitelbaum said the study looked at only a small area of ​​the whole body’s response to exercise and noted that the findings were based on mice rather than humans.

Sure, mice’s immune systems are closely related to humans, but the way they were exercised in cages doesn’t reflect the human experience, said Dr. Teitelbaum.

Basically, they were looking at a very small piece of a very large puzzle. While it’s important to do, it’s also important to keep perspective.

MNT extension he also spoke with Ryan Glatt, senior brain health coach and director of the FitBrain program at the Pacific Neuroscience Institute in Santa Monica, California, who was not involved in the study.

I’m glad that another limitation is that there are a lot of inflammatory biomarkers and myokines that can be measured, so it’s very difficult to get a complete picture of how they all play a role.

Glatt said the biggest finding from the study appears to be that exercise may produce anti-inflammatory effects through upregulating anti-inflammatory biomarkers and decreasing pro-inflammatory biomarkers.

When asked how to put these findings into practice, Dr Teitelbaum said:

Simple lifestyle changes, including exercising in the sun, can have huge health benefits. These can include a healthier, more balanced immune system, weight loss, and a reduced tendency for diabetes and heart disease, not to mention decreased anxiety and depression. Go for walks in the sun []and exercise nutritional common sense. These simple measures can leave you healthier, happier, slimmer, and with a balanced immune system.

Of course, adhering to a healthy, balanced diet that emphasizes whole foods and limits or avoids processed foods and excess sugar can also help reduce inflammation. Increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids may also be helpful, concluded Dr. Teitelbaum.

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