EXERCISE can improve fat metabolism and strengthen the immune system through the same mechanism previously shown to give beneficial effects to the brain, according to researchers from the Karolinska Institutet, Solna, Sweden. The findings could provide the basis for new treatments for obesity and diabetes.
In an earlier study, it was shown that muscles trained through exercise can convert the stress marker kynurenine, of which high levels have been measured in people with mental illness, into kynurenic acid, which benefits the brain. In the new research, mice fed on a fat-rich diet that made them overweight and raised their blood sugar levels, were given a daily dose of kynurenic acid. Despite no change in food intake, the kynurenic acid prevented weight gain in the mice and improved their glucose tolerance.
The researchers suggest that this could be caused by the kynurenic acid activating the GPR35 cell receptor, found in both fat and immune cells. In fat cells, this led to white fat being converted into energy-burning brown fat, and in immune cells led to their anti-inflammatory properties being enhanced.
The findings could have exciting implications for preventing and treating obesity and diabetes. “We’ve linked the two parts of the expression ‘sound mind, sound body’,” commented principal investigator Dr Jorge Ruas, Karolinska Institutet. “Our research adds to the understanding of why exercise training benefits the body and in the long run can lead to the development of new treatments for obesity or diabetes.”
The next stage of research for the team is to try and identify the complex chain of interacting molecules affected by diet and exercise training.
James Coker, Reporter
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