A large body of evidence reports about the positive effects of physical activity in pathophysiological conditions associated with aging. Physical exercise, alone or in combination with other medical therapies, unquestionably causes reduction of symptoms in chronic non-transmissible diseases often leading to significant amelioration or complete healing. The molecular basis of this exciting outcome—however, remain largely obscure. Epigenetics, exploring at the interface between environmental signals and the remodeling of chromatin structure, promises to shed light on this intriguing matter possibly contributing to the identification of novel therapeutic targets. In this review, we shall focalize on the role of sirtuins (Sirts) a class III histone deacetylases (HDACs), which function has been frequently associated, often with a controversial role, to the pathogenesis of aging-associated pathophysiological conditions, including cancer, cardiovascular, muscular, neurodegenerative, bones and respiratory diseases. Numerous studies, in fact, demonstrate that Sirt-dependent pathways are activated upon physical and cognitive exercises linking mitochondrial function, DNA structure remodeling and gene expression regulation to designed medical therapies leading to tangible beneficial outcomes. However, in similar conditions, other studies assign to sirtuins a negative pathophysiological role. In spite of this controversial effect, it is doubtless that studying sirtuins in chronic diseases might lead to an unprecedented improvement of life quality in the elderly.
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