Exercise Counteracts Fat and Strengthens Immune System

exercise immune system

A new study from Sweden has revealed that the same mechanism that is behind why exercise boosts mood and improves depression, can also help to counteract fat and strengthen the immune system.

Brain impact

Researchers at the Karolinska Institutet have been studying the impact of exercise on the body and mind. In 2014 they reported that they had discovered the mechanism behind the beneficial effect of exercise on the brain. They found how trained muscles help to clean the blood in a similar way that the kidneys and liver do. 

Through exercise, muscles can convert kynurenine to kynurenic acid. The kynurenine pathway is thought to be associated with depression and brain disorders, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. This discovery of the link between exercise and the kynurenine pathway went some way to explaining why exercise is good for the brain and can improve mood.

Mice study

For this new part of the research, the team further examined the function of kynurenic acid, using mice. 

They fed the mice a high-fat diet designed to make them overweight and raise their blood sugar levels. They found that, despite this high-fat diet, a daily dose of kynurenic acid stopped the mice from putting on weight and gave them better glucose tolerance. 

The researchers believe that kynurenic acid activates the cell receptor GPR35, which is found in both fat cells and immune cells. In fat cells, this process leads to white fat converting to energy-burning brown fat. And in immune cells, it enhances the cells’ anti-inflammatory properties. 

The results of this new study have been published in the journal Cell Metabolism.

Drug development

These results could potentially lead to the development of new obesity and diabetes drugs. 

The researchers will now do further work to try and understand this complex sequence of events. Dr Jorge Ruas, principal investigator, said: “We’ve shown that kynurenic acid prevents weight gain despite excessive energy intake. Our next step is to identify the complex chain of interacting molecules that’s affected by diet and training.”

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