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Why does exercise protect against heart disease?

MADRID, November 11 (EUROPA PRESS) –

Regular training protects the cardiovascular system by lowering risk factors such as cholesterol and blood pressure. "However, we believe there are certain risk factors for cardiovascular disease that are not fully understood," says Matthias Nahrendorf of the Center for Systems Biology at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in an article in the journal Nature Medicine & # 39; to.

In particular, Nahrendorf and his team wanted to better understand the role of chronic inflammation, which contributes to the formation of blockages called plaques.

The researchers investigated how physical activity affects bone marrow activity, particularly the hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPC) that can become any type of blood cell, including white blood cells called leukocytes promote inflammation.

The body needs leukocytes to fend off infections and eliminate foreign bodies, "but when these cells become too jealous, they swell where they should not, including arterial walls," explains Nahrendorf.

Nahrendorf and his colleagues examined a group of laboratory mice housed in cages with treadmills. Some of the mice ran up to a kilometer per night on the spinning wheels.

Mice in a second group were kept in cages without treadmills. After six weeks, running mice had significantly less HSPC activity and lower levels of inflammatory leukocytes than other mice that simply sat in their cages throughout the day.

Nahrendorf explains that mice use this exercise to produce less leptin, a hormone produced by adipose tissue that supports the control of appetite, but also indicates that HSPCs become more active and increase leukocyte production. In two large studies, high levels of leptin and leucocytes were detected in sedentary people with cardiovascular disease associated with chronic inflammation.

"This study identifies a new molecular link between training and inflammation that occurs in the bone marrow and highlights a previously unrecognized role of leptin in exercise-mediated cardiovascular protection," said Michelle Olive, program officer at the Department of Cardiology. Circulatory Sciences of the National Institute of Heart, Lung and Blood.

"This work expands the puzzle of how physical inactivity affects cardiovascular health, a new piece, and emphasizes the importance of following physical activity," he adds.

The study found that reducing the leukocyte levels by physical activity does not make running mice susceptible to infection.

This study highlights the importance of regular physical activity, but focuses more on how physical activity curbs inflammation and can lead to new strategies to prevent heart attacks and strokes. "We hope that this research will lead to new therapies that treat cardiovascular diseases from a completely new perspective," concludes Nahrendorf.

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