Study: Exercise prompts muscles to fight inflammation on their own

That exercise is good for the body in all kinds of ways is a given, but researchers are only just uncovering a rather surprising effect that exercise has on muscles. Apparently, exercise prompts muscle cells to fight off inflammation on their own.

Scientists at Duke University have been stimulating the effects of exercise on engineered muscle cells and tissues that were grown in a lab. The lab-grown muscles have been subjected to high levels of a pro-inflammatory molecule called interferon gamma over the course of seven days. In previous studies, interferon gamma has been linked to muscle wasting-related conditions.

After this, the scientists stimulated the muscles with a pair of electrodes to mimic the effects of exercise. To their great surprise, the “exercise” caused the inflammation to disappear almost entirely, with further investigations revealing that the stimulated exercise blocked a particular pathway in the muscle cells.

“When exercising, the muscle cells themselves were directly opposing the pro-inflammatory signal induced by interferon gamma, which we did not expect to happen,” said Nenad Bursac, professor of biomedical engineering at Duke University. “These results show just how valuable lab-grown human muscles might be in discovering new mechanisms of disease and potential treatments.”

As a reminder, inflammation is a complex physiological response to a range of triggers such as stress or infections, and it can have a damaging long-term consequences on your body. If you want to take a deeper scientific dive into the effect of exercise on inflammation, check out the research in the journal Science Advances.

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