A new study published in Cell Metabolism suggests that exercise epigenetically alters gene expression in muscle tissue, to protect against metabolic diseases, reports Hannah Waters at The Scientist. "Exercise can delay the onset of diabetes by boosting the expression of genes involved in muscle oxidation and glucose regulation," she says, adding that the study "suggests that DNA methylation drives some of these changes, and that they can occur within just a few hours of exercise."
The researchers took muscle tissue samples from 14 healthy people who didn't exercise regularly, both before and after they'd exercised for 20 minutes, Waters says. They found that, within three hours of exercise, promoters for genes that tend to be expressed in low levels in people with type 2 diabetes lost certain methyl marks. These methylation changes, in turn, correlated with an up-regulation of genes, she adds. Molecular exercise physiologist Perla Kaliman from the August Pi i Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute in Barcelona, who was not involved in the research, tells Waters that the study "shows that there is some molecular evidence to support that notion that exercise is a medicine."
Daily Scan's sister publication, GenomeWeb Daily News, has more on this study here.
Full disclosure: Hannah Waters, who wrote the article at The Scientist, is a minority investor in GenomeWeb, though she has no editorial input in our publications.