Sport changes DNA in a short time

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Even a short sports training session changes the DNA and increases performance

A short sports training session in humans releases gene blocks in the cells of the muscles. An international team of researchers from the Danish University of Copenhagen and the Swedish Karolinska Institute found this out in a joint study. Although the effect is not permanent, it can be explained why continuously exercising significantly reduces the risk of developing diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and other serious illnesses.

Training that is carried out for the first time can directly have a positive impact on DNA. The movement unit does not change the genetic information, but rather removes special switch molecules that otherwise shut down genes for building muscles. In other words: the intensive movement units release blockage deposits on the DNA in the muscle cells. This allows more genetic information to be scanned than was previously the case. This is evidenced by a coursework with 14 male and female subjects from an international research consortium. "This effect is not permanent," the researchers write in the scientific journal "Cell Metabolism", but it can now be explained why regular sport protects against heart diseases, circulatory problems and diabetes. If sport is carried out continuously and slowly increasing, physical fitness becomes manufactured.

Before and after effect demonstrable by muscle tests
14 untrained women and men participated in the study. All participants should first exercise on a fitness machine until they have consumed around 400 calories. Before the start and end of the training session, the scientists took a biopsy and took minimal tissue samples from the stressed muscles. In the laboratory, they now used genetic engineering methods to examine the DNA of the cells. In this way, a “before and after effect” could be determined.

Which genes of the genetic material are activated in the cells depends, for example, on where the blocking attachments are located on the DNA. The tiny hydrocarbon groups block the path of the cell system and thus prevent the genes from being fully read. Before the study, the researchers still assumed that the appendices are relatively stable and if they are only changed in the short term by environmental pollution. "According to our results, however, the patterns in the genome are far more variable than previously assumed," said Romain Barrés from the University of Copenhagen. Even a short period of intense muscle strain apparently suffices to solve many gene blocks.

Before and after effect demonstrable by muscle tests
14 untrained women and men participated in the study. Even a short period of intense muscle strain apparently suffices to solve many gene blocks.

First effects shortly after exercising
According to the results, the end of the blockade and thus the reaction of the DNA to the sporting activity happens quite quickly. In the laboratory after the first biopsy, the researchers were able to discover the dissolution of some DNA attachments in the samples. Three hours after the end of the training, further attachments had disappeared in the next muscle cell sample. The observation shows that “our muscles adapt to what we are doing. Removing the blockages is one of them, ”says study leader Juleen Zierath from the Swedish Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm. The changes that take place in the DNA of the muscles in the muscles are the first step in genetic reprogramming so that the muscles can withstand the demands and thus become stronger. First and foremost, attachments to sports units that previously blocked metabolic genes are removed.

A similar result when caffeine was administered
The scientists discovered a similar result when they contaminated isolated muscle cells in the laboratory dish with caffeine. "Apparently, the stimulating caffeine mimics the effect of muscle contractions typical in sports," the researchers suspect. The effect is not synonymous with people simply having to drink coffee instead of exercising their muscles. This positive effect cannot be fully achieved without exercise.

The study showed that the human genomes are constructed much more dynamically than previously thought. The changed conditions that a person is subject to during sports training lead to better muscle care and increased performance and "that benefits health". The researchers sum up: "Movement is medicine and it seems that our genome can very quickly reprogram it for physical fitness". (sb)

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Image: Petra Bork /

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Video: DNA Replication Updated


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