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Scientists find enzyme that explains how exercise fights ageing

Monash University researchers in Australia have uncovered an enzyme that plays a critical role in why exercise improves our health. Importantly, this finding has paved the way for medications that boost the activity of this enzyme, guarding against the effects of ageing on metabolic health, such as type 2 diabetes.

The study team explains how an enzyme called NOX-4 is critical for exercise-induced ROS and the adaptive responses that promote metabolic health in an article published on December 15 in the journal Science Advances.

Type 2 diabetes is more common as people become older because of the development of insulin resistance, or the body’s inability to respond to insulin, which is generally caused by decreased physical activity. The exact processes by which physical inactivity promotes the development of insulin resistance, however, remain unknown.

Now, Monash University researchers in Australia have identified how physical exercise improves insulin responsiveness, which in turn improves metabolic health. Importantly, the enzymes they uncovered that are important in this pathway might be targeted by medications to guard against ageing-related problems including muscle wasting and diabetes.

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Professor Tony Tiganis and his team of scientists at Monash University’s Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) have discovered that decreases in skeletal muscle reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation throughout ageing play a key role in the development of insulin resistance. According to Professor Tiganis, skeletal muscle creates reactive oxygen species (ROS) on a continuous basis, which increases during activity.

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