Exercise training on the brain also helps to oppose fat and builds up the immune system, reveals a new study from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. The results published in the journal Cell Metabolism will eventually give rise to new obesity and diabetes drugs.
In 2014, research team at Karolinska Institutet reported that they had discovered a mechanism behind the beneficial effect of exercise training on the brain. A follow-up study now demonstrates that the same process also boosts fat metabolism and strengthens the anti-inflammatory properties of the immune system.
"We've linked the two parts of the expression 'sound mind, sound body'," says Jorge Ruas, principal investigator at the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Karolinska Institutet. "Our research adds to the understanding of why exercise training benefits the body and in the long run can lead to the development of new treatments for obesity or diabetes."
For this present study, the research team further examined the function of kynurenic acid. Using mice fed on a fat-rich diet that made them overweight and raised their blood sugar levels, they found that a daily dose of kynurenic acid stopped the mice putting on weight and gave them better glucose tolerance, despite no change in their food intake.
The scientists conclude the explanation that kynurenic acid activated the cell receptor GPR35, which is found in both fat cells and immune cells. This led in the former to a conversion of white fat into energy-burning brown fat, and in the latter to an enhancement of their anti-inflammatory properties.
"We've shown that kynurenic acid prevents weight gain despite excessive energy intake," says Dr Ruas. "Our next step is to identify the complex chain of interacting molecules that's affected by diet and training."