If we can discover a key protein whose levels rise or fall with training, we'll have taken a step toward the development of drugs that mimic some of the benefits of physical exercise," said Leandro Pereira de Moura, a professor at UNICAMP's School of Applied Sciences and the principal investigator of the study.
The researchers opted for a short exercise protocol of only 15 days to demonstrate that the benefits observed were directly linked to strength training and not to the secondary effects of weight loss.
In experiments with mice, researchers at UNICAMP's Molecular Biology of Exercise Laboratory (LaBMEx) found that two weeks of such exercise was sufficient to modify gene expression in liver tissue in ways that "burned" more stored lipids and contributed to the treatment of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
To do this, the researchers analyzed the tissue expression of genes associated with lipogenesis (synthesis of fatty acids and triglycerides, contributing to the accumulation of fat) and lipolysis (breakdown of lipids for use as an energy source by the organism).
Moura explained that excess fat in the liver causes local inflammation, which makes liver cells less sensitive to the action of insulin.
This showed that the trained animal's liver underwent metabolic alterations that made it more sensitive to insulin."
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The control group, which was fed a standard diet (4 percent fat), remained lean and sedentary.