- This study compared the response of human plasma proteins to bouts of moderate- and high-intensity exercise
- The protein response varied according to the intensity of exercise
- The protein changes corresponded with distinct functional biological pathways
- Integration of the results with genomic data allowed a simulation in which proteomic responses to exercise were associated with decreased blood pressure and increased or decreased risk of coronary artery disease
- The proteome may yield novel therapeutic targets for people with elevated genetic cardiovascular risk or burdensome disease
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Current guidelines about routine exercise imply that moderate and vigorous exercise are comparable options for promoting cardiovascular and overall health. However, there's increasing evidence that high-intensity exercise confers greater benefits.
J. Sawalla Guseh, MD, director of the Cardiovascular Disease Fellowship Program, and Aaron L. Baggish, MD, director of the Cardiovascular Performance Program at Massachusetts General Hospital, and colleagues have gained insight into why the effects of exercise vary according to its intensity. They studied plasma-based proteins, which are key to numerous biological processes and may facilitate exercise-induced metabolic and physiologic changes.
In Nature: Scientific Reports, the team details how the plasma proteome responds to different exercise intensities. These variable responses appear to contribute to the intensity-dependent effects of exercise on coronary artery disease (CAD) and blood pressure regulation.
The study participants were 12 healthy men with an average age of 21. The researchers measured plasma concentrations of 1,305 proteins before and after the participants completed two five-mile treadmill runs, one at six mph and one at maximal effort, a week apart.
623 proteins (48% of the proteome measured) were upregulated or downregulated during exercise:
- 25 responded only to moderate exercise
- 439 responded only to vigorous exercise
- 159 changed at both intensities
Thus, 184 proteins changed with moderate exercise (14% of proteome) and 598 responded to vigorous exercise (46% of the proteome), more than a threefold difference.
To identify the functional pathways present at moderate- and high-intensity exercise, the researchers performed gene ontology analysis on the upregulated proteins. At moderate exercise, the top two positively enriched pathways involved the promotion of bone growth and degradation or metabolism of lipids.
With high-intensity exercise, multiple neurologic pathways were positively enriched. Other enriched protein sets involved free radical generation, inflammatory cell response and vascular smooth muscle cell migration.
The Possibility of Novel Therapeutic Targets
By integrating genomic data with protein changes and exercise data, the researchers simulated the effects of exercise on various clinical traits. They observed proteomic responses associated with decreased blood pressure and increased or decreased risk of CAD.
The proteome may yield novel therapeutic targets for people with elevated genetic cardiovascular risk or burdensome disease.
Learn more about the Cardiovascular Performance Program at Mass General
Refer a patient to the Corrigan Minehan Heart Center at Mass General