Muscle Man

Learning How Muscles Talk to the Rest of Your Body

The range of health benefits from exercise is really quite remarkable. A longer, happier life, better sleep, better memory, and better health – just to name a few. But how can using your muscles have such a profound effect on your whole body? Well, it turns out that your muscles talk to the rest of your body when you exercise.

Molecular Text Messages

New research in Cell Metabolism provides deeper insight into molecular signals that muscles send to distant parts of the body during exercise. Martin Whitham and colleagues found that muscles release tiny molecular packets called exosomes when they are hard at work. Using proteomic techniques, they analyzed the circulation of more than 300 proteins during vigorous cycling.

These proteins traveled in exosomes and many found their way to the liver. Note that the liver plays a central role in energy balance, processing fats, carbs and proteins, and helping the body to store and release excess energy.

Among the proteins these researchers found were 35 new myokines – proteins that might play important roles in regulating metabolic health. Commenting on his findings, Whitham said:

This study reveals a huge amount of complexity in the circulating blood during exercise that we might have previously underestimated.

Much has been made of signalling between the brain and the gut. But the chats within your body clearly don’t stop there. This new research adds just a bit more clarity to the understanding that muscles are deeply engaged in the conversation that regulates your body’s metabolic health.

And in obesity, that conversation goes awry. Clues for fixing it may be found within our muscles, as well as our guts and brains.

Click here for the study and  here for more from the New York Times.

Muscle Man, photograph © Amanda Tipton/ flickr

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January 30, 2018