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Exercise and diabetes: The role of reactive oxygen species

0 3 years ago
  • The risks of type 2 diabetes and muscle wasting increase with age and decrease physical activity.
  • Researchers in Australia have isolated an enzyme associated with exercise that could be key to protecting against insulin resistance.
  • The same protective effect may be achievable through drugs that trigger the activation of this enzyme.

As we age, there is often a decrease in physical activity, which plays a role in the increased prevalence of type 2 diabetes and muscle wasting in older age.

While the benefits of physical activityTrusted Source

are widely known and accepted, exactly how exercise promotes our metabolic health and reduces insulin resistance with age is less clear.

Discovery of exercise-related enzyme

A recent study in mice, which appears in Science Advances, points to an exercise-related enzyme that may help prevent the oxidative damage that occurs during the development of age-associated type 2 diabetes.

This enzyme is NADPH oxidase 4 (NOX4), and the levels of it in our skeletal muscles increase after exercise.

Skeletal muscles are the muscles connected to bones. Exercise exposes these muscles to stress that increases the body’s toleranceTrusted Source for future stressors.

As we exercise, reactive oxygen species (ROS) are generated in muscles. As the authors of the new study explain, ROS “generated during exercise are considered integral for the health-promoting effects of exercise.”

Lead study author Prof. Tony Tiganis, of the Monash University Biomedicine Discovery Institute, in Clayton, Australia, told Medical News Today about earlier findings that a ROS called hydrogen peroxide enhanced insulin sensitivity in mice.

In the new study, a team set out to investigate the relationship between ROS, exercise, and insulin resistance in more detail.

“Our findings provide insight into why and how exercise promotes insulin sensitivity and is beneficial for metabolic health,” Prof. Tiganis said.

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