An international team of scientists has discovered molecular evidence of how exercise speeds up metabolism and boosts health, having an impact on the overall body fat. The evidence suggests that fat plays an integral role in the entire process and the exercise-induced TGF-beta 2 influences the process of metabolism.

This research paper titled “TGF-β2 is an exercise-induced adipokine that regulates glucose and fatty acid metabolism” published in the journal Nature Metabolism describes  how researchers uncovered one of the molecules that speeds up metabolism, during the scientific process. According to the researchers, this protein molecule is called transforming growth factor beta 2 (TGF-beta 2) and their study investigates its impact on both the fatty acid metabolism and on glucose levels.

The researchers,  using mice and male humans demonstrated how exercise stimulated the fat cells which then released TGF-beta 2, improving the glucose tolerance levels. Moreover, treating sedentary mice with TGF-beta 2 altered “the detrimental metabolic effects of high-fat feeding” in the animals.

TGF-beta 2 is an adipokine, which is a large cluster of signaling proteins that originate mainly in adipocytes or fat cells. Adipokines helps in regulating an assortment of metabolic activities in the fat tissue and also in the liver, brain and other organs, playing a vital role in the immune system.

According to Laurie J Goodyear, the corresponding study author and a professor of medicine at the Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA, “The fact that a single protein has such important and dramatic effects was quite impressive.”

Goodyear added that in “contrast to the negative effects of many adipokines”, their study identified TGF-beta 2 as an adipokine that “actually improves glucose tolerance” when it is released from the fat cells due to exercising.

Further investigation indicated that both men and mice experienced changes in the TGF-beta 2 levels not only in their fat tissues, but also in the blood tissues. The team discovered that treating mice with TGF-beta 2 triggered higher levels of fatty acid uptake, along with initiating metabolic changes in them.

In the next stage of the study, the researchers administered TGF-beta 2 to mice that turned obese after taking a high-fat diet. The researchers observed protein had a similar impact to that of exercise and altered the undesirable effects of the high-fat diet on the process of metabolism. In the final stage, they administered TGF-beta 2 to mice that had developed type 2 diabetes, after the fat diet. Again the impact was similar to that of exercise and led to the alteration of adverse metabolic effects of the diet.

Benefits of exercise

These findings follow previous work in which the researchers were the pioneers to highlight how exercise prompted the fat tissue to discharge or release molecules that regulated metabolic activities. This study also found lactic acid played a vital role in the entire process, while the exercise-induced TGF-beta 2 influenced the process of metabolism.

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