Friday, April 13, 2012

More on why exercise is so good for us...

Many studies show that egular physical activity confers enormous fitness benefits. Exercise training enhances muscular endurance and strength, expends calories, and combats the development of common diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. The effects of exercise are systemic and seemingly cannot be explained solely by the expenditure of calories in muscle.  Daniel Kelly writes a perspective on recent work showing how a new protein messenger named irisin (after Iris, the Greek messenger goddess) is released during muscle activity and triggers remodeling and energy expenditure in distant subcutaneous fat tissue deposits. Here is a summary figure of the muscle cell (myocyte) - fat cell (adipocyte) connection. 

Figure: The proposed irisin messenger system is depicted for humans [but was characterized in mice]. Exercise and energy expenditure induces the transcriptional regulator PGC-1α in the skeletal myocyte, which in turn drives the production of the membrane protein FNDC5. The circulating factor irisin, cleaved from FNDC5, activates thermogenic programs in white adipose tissue (“browning”), including mitochondrial biogenesis and the expression of uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1), leading to mitochondrial heat production and energy expenditure.


  1. Anonymous12:08 AM

    The physiological question is: why exercise stimulates subcutaneous fat to heat up?

  2. Irisin's discovery was a real boost for health buffs, I believe. It added up to the reasons why people should get back to exercising, even if they have odd or packed work hours.