-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
WEDNESDAY, Jan. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers have
identified a protein in muscle cells that triggers some of the
health benefits of exercise in mice.
"There has been a feeling in the field that exercise 'talks to' various tissues in the body," said the study's senior author, Bruce Spiegelman, a cell biologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and a professor of cell biology at Harvard Medical School, in a news release from the centers. "But the question has been, how?"
Known as "irisin" (after the Greek messenger goddess, Iris), the
protein acts as a chemical messenger and may eventually be used to
develop new treatments for diabetes, obesity and possibly cancer,
Spiegelman and colleagues said. Their report is published online
Jan. 11 in the journal
Exercise causes irisin levels to rise, the researchers
explained. They found the protein has "powerful effects" on
adipose, or deposits of white fat under the skin that store extra
calories and contribute to obesity.
After injecting the protein into sedentary mice that were obese
and prediabetic, the protein activated genes that convert white fat
into "good" brown fat, which burns more calories than exercise
However, they noted that irisin does not build muscle so it can
never replace exercise.
The report also revealed that irisin improved glucose tolerance
in mice that received a high-fat diet. After 10 days of treatment
with irisin, the mice had better-controlled blood sugar and insulin
levels, preventing the onset of diabetes and helping them to lose
"It's exciting to find a natural substance connected to exercise that has such clear therapeutic potential," said study first author Dr. Pontus Bostrom, a postdoctoral fellow in the Spiegelman lab, in the news release.
The researchers said it's possible that an irisin-based drug
could be ready for clinical trial in humans within two years.
Ember Therapeutics, a Boston startup company co-founded by
Spiegelman, has rights to the drug's development.
While the findings of the new study might be promising,
scientists note that research involving animals often fails to
produce similar results in humans.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health sponsored the
The U.S. National Institutes of Health provides more information
health benefits of exercise.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © EBSCO Publishing. All rights reserved.