Special Issue "Genetic and Epigenetic Modulation of Cell Functions by Physical Exercise"

A special issue of Genes (ISSN 2073-4425). This special issue belongs to the section "Molecular Genetics and Genomics".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 July 2019

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Italia Di Liegro

Universita degli Studi di Palermo, Department of Experimental Biomedicine and Clinical Neurosciences (BioNeC), Palermo, Italy
Website | E-Mail
Interests: brain cells; blood-brain barrier; RNA-binding proteins; extracellular vesicles; histone variants

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

From an evolutionary perspective, our species has relied on physical activity for most of its history (and still does) to survive and has had to escape from predators, to scavenge for food, and to use its physique to work or build necessary means for everyday life. Physical activity has been part of our evolution and progress since the very beginning, and consequently, our entire body has been programmed to be active physically and not to have a sedentary life.

However, only recently have we started to experience the consequences of the profound modifications that technology, together with highly energetic food diets, have brought into our daily lives. Thus, a lot of initiatives aim to reverse this situation and promote physical activity as a keystone for our health and happiness.

In the last twenty years, it has become increasingly clear from scientific research that our ancient survival principle has beneficial effects not only on the cells and organs involved in physical activities but on the metabolism of the entire organism, influencing the homeostasis and integration of all bodily functions, likely stimulating the production of hormones and other regulatory molecules, with each affecting vital signalling pathways.

On the contrary, the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying all these integrated effects still remain obscure. Single molecules, such as the brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) or even lactate, have been referred to as causative factors and been examined at a molecular level in different cells. Most of the web of factors involved in the molecular signalling upon exercise is suspected to be centrally controlled by the brain, which has been indeed reported to be deeply modified by physical activity. Lately, the chromatin structure and epigenetic marks (and thus gene expression) have been reported to be modulated upon physical activity and help in the treatment of pathologies as different as Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis.

Such complexity requires a multifaceted approach to shed light on the molecular interactions that occur between physical activity and its outcome at a cellular level. For this reason, we decided to bring together a collection of research articles and reviews from which new ideas could be obtained and shared.

Prof. Italia Di Liegro
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • epigenetics
  • physical exercise
  • transgenerational inheritance
  • therapy
  • vertebrates
  • brain cells
  • healthy lifestyle
  • central control of metabolism

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Review

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Open AccessReview
Physical Activity Might Reduce the Adverse Impacts of the FTO Gene Variant rs3751812 on the Body Mass Index of Adults in Taiwan
Received: 11 April 2019 / Revised: 3 May 2019 / Accepted: 6 May 2019 / Published: 9 May 2019
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Abstract
The fat mass and obesity-associated (FTO) gene is a significant genetic contributor to polygenic obesity. We investigated whether physical activity (PA) modulates the effect of FTO rs3751812 on body mass index (BMI) among Taiwanese adults. Analytic samples included 10,853 Taiwan biobank [...] Read more.
The fat mass and obesity-associated (FTO) gene is a significant genetic contributor to polygenic obesity. We investigated whether physical activity (PA) modulates the effect of FTO rs3751812 on body mass index (BMI) among Taiwanese adults. Analytic samples included 10,853 Taiwan biobank participants. Association of the single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) with BMI was assessed using linear regression models. Physical activity was defined as any kind of exercise lasting 30 min each session, at least three times a week. Participants with heterozygous (TG) and homozygous (TT) genotypes had higher BMI compared to those with wild-type (GG) genotypes. The β value was 0.381(p < 0.0001) for TG individuals and 0.684 (p = 0.0204) for TT individuals. There was a significant dose-response effect among carriers of different risk alleles (p trend <0.0001). Active individuals had lower BMI than their inactive counterparts (β = −0.389, p < 0.0001). Among the active individuals, significant associations were found only with the TG genotype (β = 0.360, p = 0.0032). Inactive individuals with TG and TT genotypes had increased levels of BMI compared to those with GG genotypes: Their β values were 0.381 (p = 0.0021) and 0.950 (p = 0.0188), respectively. There was an interaction between the three genotypes, physical inactivity, and BMI (p trend  = 0.0002). Our data indicated that increased BMI owing to genetic susceptibility by FTO rs3751812 may be reduced by physical activity. Full article
Open AccessReview
A Systematically Assembled Signature of Genes to be Deep-Sequenced for Their Associations with the Blood Pressure Response to Exercise
Received: 9 March 2019 / Revised: 4 April 2019 / Accepted: 4 April 2019 / Published: 11 April 2019
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Abstract
Background: Exercise is one of the best nonpharmacologic therapies to treat hypertension. The blood pressure (BP) response to exercise is heritable. Yet, the genetic basis for the antihypertensive effects of exercise remains elusive. Methods: To assemble a prioritized gene signature, we performed [...] Read more.
Background: Exercise is one of the best nonpharmacologic therapies to treat hypertension. The blood pressure (BP) response to exercise is heritable. Yet, the genetic basis for the antihypertensive effects of exercise remains elusive. Methods: To assemble a prioritized gene signature, we performed a systematic review with a series of Boolean searches in PubMed (including Medline) from earliest coverage. The inclusion criteria were human genes in major BP regulatory pathways reported to be associated with: (1) the BP response to exercise; (2) hypertension in genome-wide association studies (GWAS); (3) the BP response to pharmacotherapy; (4a) physical activity and/or obesity in GWAS; and (4b) BP, physical activity, and/or obesity in non-GWAS. Included GWAS reports disclosed the statistically significant thresholds used for multiple testing. Results: The search yielded 1422 reports. Of these, 57 trials qualified from which we extracted 11 genes under criteria 1, 18 genes under criteria 2, 28 genes under criteria 3, 27 genes under criteria 4a, and 29 genes under criteria 4b. We also included 41 genes identified from our previous work. Conclusions: Deep-sequencing the exons of this systematically assembled signature of genes represents a cost and time efficient approach to investigate the genomic basis for the antihypertensive effects of exercise. Full article
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Open AccessConcept Paper
Impact of Acute Aerobic Exercise on Genome-Wide DNA-Methylation in Natural Killer Cells—A Pilot Study
Genes 2019, 10(5), 380; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10050380 (registering DOI)
Received: 5 April 2019 / Revised: 15 May 2019 / Accepted: 16 May 2019 / Published: 19 May 2019
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Abstract
Natural Killer (NK-) cells reveal a keen reaction to acute bouts of exercise, including changes of epigenetic modifications. So far, exercise-induced alterations in NK-cell DNA-methylation were shown for single genes only. Studies analyzing genome-wide DNA-methylation have used conglomerates like peripheral blood mononuclear cells [...] Read more.
Natural Killer (NK-) cells reveal a keen reaction to acute bouts of exercise, including changes of epigenetic modifications. So far, exercise-induced alterations in NK-cell DNA-methylation were shown for single genes only. Studies analyzing genome-wide DNA-methylation have used conglomerates like peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) rather than specific subsets of immune cells. Therefore, the aim of this pilot-study was to generate first insights into the influence of a single bout of exercise on genome-wide DNA-methylation in isolated NK-cells to open the field for such analyses. Five healthy women performed an incremental step test and blood samples were taken before and after exercise. DNA was isolated from magnet bead sorted NK-cells and further analyzed for global DNA-methylation using the Infinium MethylationEPIC BeadChip. DNA-methylation was changed at 33 targets after acute exercise. These targets were annotated to 25 genes. Of the targets, 19 showed decreased and 14 increased methylation. The 25 genes with altered DNA-methylation have different roles in cell regulation and differ in their molecular functions. These data give new insights in the exercise induced regulation of NK-cells. By using isolated NK-cells, exercise induced differences in DNA-methylation could be shown. Whether or not these changes lead to functional adaptions needs to be elucidated. Full article
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