Stories
Slash Boxes
Comments

SoylentNews is people

posted by martyb on Friday December 19 2014, @10:27AM   Printer-friendly
from the now-the-volunteers-run-in-circles dept.

The human genome is astonishingly complex and dynamic, with genes constantly turning on or off, depending on what biochemical signals they receive from the body. Scientists have known that certain genes become active or quieter as a result of exercise but they hadn’t understood how those genes knew how to respond to exercise. Now the New York Times reports that scientists at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm have completed a study where they recruited 23 young and healthy men and women, brought them to the lab for a series of physical performance and medical tests, including a muscle biopsy, and then asked them to exercise half of their lower bodies for three months. The volunteers pedaled one-legged at a moderate pace for 45 minutes, four times per week for three months. Then the scientists repeated the muscle biopsies and other tests with each volunteer. Not surprisingly, the volunteers’ exercised leg was now more powerful than the other, showing that the exercise had resulted in physical improvements. But there were also changes within the exercised muscle cells’ DNA. Using technology that analyses 480,000 positions throughout the genome, they could see that new methylation patterns had taken place in 7,000 genes (an individual has 20–25,000 genes).

In a process known as DNA methylation, clusters of atoms, called methyl groups, attach to the outside of a gene like microscopic mollusks and make the gene more or less able to receive and respond to biochemical signals from the body. In the exercised portions of the bodies, many of the methylation changes were on portions of the genome known as enhancers that can amplify the expression of proteins by genes. And gene expression was noticeably increased or changed in thousands of the muscle-cell genes that the researchers studied. Most of the genes in question are known to play a role in energy metabolism, insulin response and inflammation within muscles. In other words, they affect how healthy and fit our muscles — and bodies — become. Many mysteries still remain but the message of the study is unambiguous. “Through endurance training — a lifestyle change that is easily available for most people and doesn’t cost much money,” says Sara Lindholm, “we can induce changes that affect how we use our genes and, through that, get healthier and more functional muscles that ultimately improve our quality of life.”

 
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
Display Options Threshold/Breakthrough Mark All as Read Mark All as Unread
The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
  • (Score: 2) by CoolHand on Friday December 19 2014, @12:36PM

    by CoolHand (438) on Friday December 19 2014, @12:36PM (#127451) Journal

    A geek news site with no comments after a couple hours on a story about the benefits of exercise..... :)

    --
    Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job-Douglas Adams
    • (Score: 2) by q.kontinuum on Friday December 19 2014, @02:28PM

      by q.kontinuum (532) on Friday December 19 2014, @02:28PM (#127477) Journal

      How long took it for the first non-off-topic comment on the amazing RRAM article?

      “Through endurance training [...] we can induce changes that [...] improve our quality of life.”

      Gosh. Captain Obvious strikes again.

      Ok, it is news to me that genes are activated/deactivated through exercise, but still it's not entirely surprising and nothing I could discuss in detail, being a SW developer, not a biologist.

      --
      Registered IRC nick on chat.soylentnews.org: qkontinuum
  • (Score: 2) by Dale on Friday December 19 2014, @01:38PM

    by Dale (539) on Friday December 19 2014, @01:38PM (#127461)

    I suppose by seeing what is triggered in our bodies through exercise we are one step closer to being able to force the changes chemically without the actual exercise. That should put it in the realm of "things we'd like to see happen."

    • (Score: 2) by pnkwarhall on Friday December 19 2014, @07:49PM

      by pnkwarhall (4558) on Friday December 19 2014, @07:49PM (#127566)

      Why would you like to see that happen? Why would you like your body to not need exercise? This doesn't seem like a positive progression to me.

      --
      Lift Yr Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 20 2014, @12:41PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 20 2014, @12:41PM (#127729)

        Because exercise is time consuming, not enjoyable to all, and not a viable option to all. Also, space adaptation.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by dlb on Friday December 19 2014, @02:04PM

    by dlb (4790) on Friday December 19 2014, @02:04PM (#127468)
    When I'm in a funk or tangled in non-productive problem solving, the last thing I want to do is go out the door for a jog, bike ride or walk. But if I force myself, or some family member goads me into doing what they know I need, I come back pleasantly different. I'm less depressed, and I sometimes can see problems at a new (and productive) angle.

    Exercise is like medication for me. I hate the "taste". But it works. Usually quite well.
  • (Score: 1) by theronb on Friday December 19 2014, @02:14PM

    by theronb (2596) on Friday December 19 2014, @02:14PM (#127470)

    ...to create the methylation changes so I don't actually have to do the work to get the results?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 19 2014, @03:12PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 19 2014, @03:12PM (#127497)

      You don't get a pill. It's akin of asking, "how do I get smart if I don't want to learn?" Short term pain, for long term gain is how your body works. Deal with it.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 19 2014, @10:06PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 19 2014, @10:06PM (#127604)

        That's akin to saying, "I fear change, and the world should work as it has always worked." If science is capable of producing a lazy pill, it will eventually be made.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 20 2014, @12:52PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 20 2014, @12:52PM (#127730)

        Bullshit appeal to naturalism, there is no inherent superiority to "the way things are".

    • (Score: 2) by Bot on Friday December 19 2014, @05:08PM

      by Bot (3902) Subscriber Badge on Friday December 19 2014, @05:08PM (#127527) Journal

      Yes, I too prefer financing big pharma with their pills instead million years old techniques like physical exercise. OTOH I speak as a misanthropist bot.

      --
      Account abandoned.
  • (Score: 1) by quixote on Friday December 19 2014, @03:21PM

    by quixote (4355) Subscriber Badge on Friday December 19 2014, @03:21PM (#127500)

    Other work has shown methylation changes in muscle cells after exercise. This particular one was actually about changes in adipose cells. There's been previous work showing changes in leukocytes, which are part of your immune system.

    Bottom line: exercise is going to turn out to affect methylation patterns of every cell in your body.

    And, yeah, they may eventually come up with a pill that can do the same thing without side effects. But if you used a transportation analogy to show how far away we (biologists) are from getting there, then it's like traveling from Boston to the Oort Cloud. We have some of the technology right now to go part of the way. A small part. The rest is going to require basic knowledge we don't even have yet, to say nothing of the tech, to get there in a reasonable period of time. But the concept doesn't violate known principles of molecular biology.

    • (Score: 1) by monster on Monday December 22 2014, @06:05PM

      by monster (1260) on Monday December 22 2014, @06:05PM (#128405) Journal

      An interesting byproduct of these studies is that they show that reality usually is less absolutist than initially thought. Two centuries ago there were heated arguments between the "Need brings function" (Lamarckism) and "Function outpopulates less evolved" (Darwinism) camps. Now it looks like even the wrong one (Lamarckism) had a bit of truth in it, in the sense that the lifestyle an organism has affects its genes and those changes can (potentially) be passed over, while the "genetic inheritance at birth is everything" mantra got toned down a little bit from its "genetic determinism" origin.