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The benefits of sport in physical health can no longer be proved, as in mental and neurological health. They are now well documented and displayed, regardless of age and gender. Sport helps prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes and other cardio-metabolic diseases, but it can also make you happier thanks to endorphins. However, the molecular and cellular mechanisms mediating the metabolic benefits of physical activity remain unclear. Recently, researchers have identified a molecule in the blood, produced during exercise, that effectively reduces food intake and obesity in rats, similar to physical activity. These results will improve the understanding of the physiological processes underlying the interaction between exercise and hunger, while marking, if it can be proven for humans, the development of a pill that mimics these effects, but no sports practice.
In recent years, research in the field of sport and health has been exponential. Thus, exercise stimulates, among other things, the brain – especially the ability to perform tasks that require attention, organization, planning – and can reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety in some people. In addition, biologists are beginning to understand the mechanisms that are triggered at the cellular and molecular level by regular physical activity.
Sport is an important and important part of dietary programs to control weight gain or to lose it, but also recommendations before and after surgery for some bariatric surgeries. However, less than half of French people aged 15 to 75 achieve a level of physical activity that is conducive to health. Not to mention that more than a billion people in the world are obese — 650 million adults, 340 million teenagers and 39 million children. This number continues to increase. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that by 2025, approximately 167 million people, both adults and children, will be in poor health due to overweight and associated pathologies, such as diabetes.
In this context, a group of researchers from Baylor College of Medicine and Stanford School of Medicine identified a key molecule in the relationship between sport and hunger in rats. It involves a reduction in food intake and weight loss, which does not involve any particular physical exercise. The work is published in the journal NATURE.
A molecule that mediates sport-related benefits
Since regular exercise can help with weight loss, appetite regulation and an improved metabolic profile, especially for overweight and obese people, researchers aim to accurately determine the underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms.
Yong Xu, Professor of Pediatrics, Nutrition and Molecular and Cellular Biology at Baylor, said in a statement: “ If we can understand the mechanism by which exercise causes these benefits, then we are one step closer to helping more people improve their health. “.
To this end, they were brought to a full analysis of compounds in the blood plasma of rats, after intense running on a treadmill. The molecule, which is meaningfully produced, is a modified amino acid, called Lac-Phe. It is synthesized from lactate – a normal product of glucose metabolism during physical exercise, which is responsible for burning muscles – and phenylalanine – an amino acid that makes up proteins.
As a result, the researchers induced obesity in mice through a high-fat diet, then tested the effect of Lac-Phe, which was mediated by injections of appropriate doses. They found that a high dose of Lac-Phe inhibited food intake by about 50% compared to control rats, over a 12-hour period, without affecting their movement or expenditure. energy. When given to rats for 10 days, Lac-Phe reduced cumulative food intake and body weight – due to loss of body fat – and improved glucose tolerance.
The authors also identified an enzyme, called CNDP2, involved in the production of Lac-Phe. They showed that mice lacking this enzyme did not lose weight with a regular exercise regimen as a control group with the same exercise regimen.
Toward a miracle pill against obesity and the effects of aging
Co-author Jonathan Long, Assistant Professor of Pathology at Stanford Medicine and Stanford Institute ChEM-H (Chemistry, Engineering & Medicine for Human Health) researcher, explained: We want to understand how exercise works at the molecular level so we can reap some of its benefits. For example, elderly or frail people who do not exercise enough may one day benefit from taking medication that helps slow down osteoporosis, heart disease or other conditions. “.
By the way, scientists also found a significant increase in plasma levels of Lac-Phe after physical activity in horses and humans. A dataset constructed for exercising humans found that sprint exercise induced the greatest increase in plasma Lac-Phe, followed by resistance training and then endurance training.
Consequently, these data define an exercise-induced molecule that regulates food intake and influences energy balance related to physical activity in several animal species. Dr. Yong Xu concluded: “ Our next steps are to understand in more detail how Lac-Phe mediates its effects on the body, including the brain. Our goal is to learn how to modify this exercise pathway for therapeutic interventions. “.
The arrival of a miracle pill, which changes the effects of sport on our body, especially by reducing hunger and allowing weight loss, is visible and it is the subject of many studies around the world . But while waiting for his real development, then his marketing, effective sport remains the best ally against overweight and related diseases.