Scientists from the Ohio State University Wexner Center have conducted a study aimed at determining how exercise works on a molecular level to fight joint inflammation. The team reported its findings at the recently held annual congress of the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR).
Joint problems such as chronic inflammation, swelling and pain are associated with over 200 rheumatic diseases. Persistent inflammation is known to damage the affected joints but previous studies have demonstrated that exercise can reduce inflammation in cases of rheumatoid arthritis.
The Ohio research team concentrated on physiological changes that result from exercise and how they affect inflammation. The results were very promising: they showed that exercise helps fight inflammation and it does so by generating a biological response.
Since inflammatory processes are the main contributing factor to disability, the team was excited to find out how exercise suppresses inflammation on a molecular level, said presenting author Dr Nicholas Young. The results of the study demonstrate the positive effects of exercise in reducing the massive burden of rheumatic diseases. The study also made it clear that exercise needs to be done regularly if the outcomes are to be clinically significant, Young added.
The in-vivo study, which used mice as test subjects, measured the activation and regulation of a protein complex called NF-bK. This complex controls a large number of genes associated with inflammation and has been established as chronically active in many inflammatory diseases, arthritis being one of them. The researchers created an inflammatory response in the mice through an injection of lipopolysaccharides (LPS). The whole-body systemic analysis revealed that groups of mice exercised before and after the LPS injection showed significant inhibition of NF-kB activation. However, the inhibition effect was found to last only 24 hours post-exercise, which demonstrates the need for regular physical activity to reinforce the beneficial effects, the researchers said.