Physical activity found to protect against ageing and insulin resistance

December 20, 2021
Physical activity found to protect against ageing and insulin resistance

Scientists from Monash University, Australia, have discovered a new enzyme produced through exercise that might help stave off declining metabolic health in older people. Physical inactivity in aging populations leads to the development of insulin resistance: when the body’s cells do not respond well to insulin nor take up glucose as they should, leaving it to build up in the blood instead. Insulin resistance is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes and is also associated with obesity.

As for the biological mechanisms related to insulin resistance, the scientists were able to show that physical activity promotes metabolic health via the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in skeletal muscle. ROS production in skeletal muscle declines with age and is implicated in the development of insulin resistance.

In mouse experiments, newly discovered enzyme called NOX4 was observed to be at the center of this process. NOX4 levels were heightened after exercise, which in turn boosted levels of ROS and protected the mice from developing insulin resistance. This was also true of aging mice and mice with diet-induced obesity.

In addition, the experiments showed that concentrations of NOX4 in skeletal muscle are directly related to aging and a decline in insulin sensitivity. The scientists said NOX4 has the potential to be targeted with drugs that boost its activity and maintain metabolic health in aging people. They also imagine that the solution could be found in nature, though there will be much work to do before this can be translated into therapeutics.

Category: Features, Wellness and Complementary Therapies

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