Exerkines in health, resilience and disease

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  • Lisa S Chow
  • Robert E Gerszten
  • Joan M Taylor
  • Henriette van Praag
  • Scott Trappe
  • Mark A Febbraio
  • Zorina S Galis
  • Yunling Gao
  • Jacob M Haus
  • Ian R Lanza
  • Carl J Lavie
  • Chih-Hao Lee
  • Alejandro Lucia
  • Cedric Moro
  • Ambarish Pandey
  • Jeremy M Robbins
  • Kristin I Stanford
  • Alice E Thackray
  • Saul Villeda
  • Matthew J Watt
  • Ashley Xia
  • Bret H Goodpaster
  • Michael P Snyder

The health benefits of exercise are well-recognized and are observed across multiple organ systems. These beneficial effects enhance overall resilience, healthspan and longevity. The molecular mechanisms that underlie the beneficial effects of exercise, however, remain poorly understood. Since the discovery in 2000 that muscle contraction releases IL-6, the number of exercise-associated signalling molecules that have been identified has multiplied. Exerkines are defined as signalling moieties released in response to acute and/or chronic exercise, which exert their effects through endocrine, paracrine and/or autocrine pathways. A multitude of organs, cells and tissues release these factors, including skeletal muscle (myokines), the heart (cardiokines), liver (hepatokines), white adipose tissue (adipokines), brown adipose tissue (baptokines) and neurons (neurokines). Exerkines have potential roles in improving cardiovascular, metabolic, immune and neurological health. As such, exerkines have potential for the treatment of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus and obesity, and possibly in the facilitation of healthy ageing. This Review summarizes the importance and current state of exerkine research, prevailing challenges and future directions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNature Reviews Endocrinology
Pages (from-to)273-289
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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© 2022. Springer Nature Limited.

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