Regular strenuous exercise could contribute to the development of motor neuron disease among individuals already genetically predisposed to the condition, Sky News reports. It adds that the researchers behind the new study note that most people who take part in vigorous exercise do not develop motor neuron disease.
The University of Sheffield's Pamela Shaw and her colleagues used a Mendelian randomization approach to test whether exercise contributed to MND or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis risk as well as a transcriptomic analysis to explore whether ALS-linked genes were expressed during exercise based on UK Biobank data. As they report in eBioMedicine, the researchers found that many of the genes known to increase ALS risk change their expression in response to strenuous exercise and that people with the most common ALS-linked gene variant tend to develop the disease earlier if they take part in vigorous exercise regularly.
"This research goes some way towards unraveling the link between high levels of physical activity and the development of MND in certain genetically at-risk groups," Shaw tells BBC News.
Co-author Johnathan Cooper-Knock, also of Sheffield, adds at Sky News that he "wouldn't advise anybody to change their exercise habits because we don't know who is at risk at the moment."