Can we ‘program’ people through epigenetics to enjoy exercise?

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Some people wake early every morning to run, bike, swim, or lift. For others, finding the motivation to work out can be more of a challenge. A new study shows that the difference between the two may be held in the epigenetic control of the expression of certain genes. And, since epigenetic mechanisms are inherently more malleable than genetics, the findings suggest a potential way to help “program” people to enjoy being more physically active.

The researchers disrupted DNA methylation in AgRP neurons by disabling the Dnmt3a gene. Dnmt3a is responsible for adding methyl groups to DNA, particularly in the brain during early postnatal life.

The investigators then tested whether these animals gained or lost weight when compared to normal mice.

Related article:  Exercise creates a ‘unique microbiome’ in our guts. We don't know why.

The researchers placed running wheels in the animals’ cages for eight weeks and measured how much they ran each night. Normal male mice ran about 6 km (3.7 miles) every night, but the Dnmt3a-deficient mice ran only half as much and, accordingly, lost less fat. Importantly, detailed treadmill studies showed that, although they ran only half as much as normal mice, the Dnmt3a-deficient mice were just as capable of running. They had the ability but appeared to lack the desire.

Read full, original post: Skipping the Gym? Blame your Epigenome

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