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Exercise Training Reduces Inflammatory Mediators in the Intestinal Tract of Healthy Older Adult Mice*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 April 2012

Nicholas Packer*
School of Public Health and Health Systems, University of Waterloo
Laurie Hoffman-Goetz*
School of Public Health and Health Systems, University of Waterloo
Correspondence and requests for offprints should be sent to / La correspondance et les demandes de tirés-à-part doivent être adressées à: Laurie Hoffman-Goetz, Ph.D., M.P.H. School of Public Health and Health Systems Faculty of Applied Health Sciences University of Waterloo 200 University Avenue West Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1 (
Correspondence and requests for offprints should be sent to / La correspondance et les demandes de tirés-à-part doivent être adressées à: Laurie Hoffman-Goetz, Ph.D., M.P.H. School of Public Health and Health Systems Faculty of Applied Health Sciences University of Waterloo 200 University Avenue West Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1 (


Aging is associated with increased intestinal inflammation and elevated risk of chronic diseases including inflammatory bowel diseases and colon cancer; many epidemiologic studies show that regular exercise reduces risk. This study examined the effects of long-term voluntary exercise on inflammatory mediators expressed in the intestine of older (15–16 months), healthy C57BL/6 mice. Animals were assigned to four months of freewheel running (WR; n = 20) or to a “sedentary” no wheel running (NWR; n = 20) control group. Intestinal lymphocytes were harvested and analysed for expression of (1) pro-inflammatory (TNF-α, IL-1β) and pleiotropic (IL-6) cytokines, and (2) pro-(caspase-3/-7) and anti-(Bcl-2) apoptotic proteins. Training was confirmed by skeletal muscle enzyme activity; stress was assessed by plasma 8-iso-PGF and corticosterone. The WR mice had a lower expression of TNF-α, caspase-7, and 8-isoprostanes (p < .05) compared to sedentary controls, suggesting that long-term exercise may “protect” the bowel by reducing inflammatory cytokine and apoptotic protein expression.


Le vieillissement s’allie à une augmentation d’inflammation intestinale et le risque élevé de maladies chroniques, y compris les maladies inflammatoires de l’intestin et le cancer du côlon; nombreuses études épidémiologiques indiquent que l’exercice régulier réduit les risques. Cette étude a examiné les effets à long terme de l’exercice volontaire sur les médiateurs inflammatoires dans les intestins des souris âgées et en bonne santé C57BL/6 (âgées de 15–16 mois). On a désigné les animaux soit à quatre mois de roue d’exercice à souris (RES ; n – 20), soit à une groupe de contrôle « sédentaire » (NRL ; n = 20). Les lymphocytes intestinaux ont été récoltés et analysés pour la présence de (1) pro-inflammatoire (TNF-a, IL-1β) et de cytokines pléotropes (IL-6), et (2) de pro-(caspase-3/-7) et d’anti-(Bcl-2) protéines apoptotiques. L’efficacité d’exercise a été confirmée par l’activité des enzymes dans les muscles squelettiques ; l’évidence de stress a été confirmée par un plasma 8-iso-PGF et la corticostérone. Les RES souris ont réalisés une incidence inférieure de TNF-α, de la caspase-7, et de 8-isoprostanes (p < .05) par rapport aux contrôles sédentaires, ce qui suggère que l’exercice à long terme peut « protéger » l’intestin en réduisant la manifestation de cytokines inflammatoires et du protéine apoptotique.

Copyright © Canadian Association on Gerontology 2012

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We thank Julia Guan for technical assistance. Research was supported by a grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. Nicholas Packer was the recipient of a Canadian Institutes of Health Research post-graduate scholarship.


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