Can Sestrin Replace Exercise?
Feb 10 2020 Read 202 Times
In a new study from the University of Michigan, researchers have discovered a protein that could replicate the benefits of a rigorous workout, without the need to work up a sweat. Known as Sestrin, the naturally occurring protein builds up in the muscles after exercise and actively improves both endurance and performance.
When tested on flies and mice, the team found that Sestrin mimics the health benefits of a workout, with research assistant professor Myungjin Kim, Ph.D. predicting the findings could be used to treat age-related muscle deterioration and prevent atrophy, a condition that occurs when a muscle is immobilised for a long period of time, often in a cast or due to lack of mobility.
"Researchers have previously observed that Sestrin accumulates in muscle following exercise," says Kim, who works in the Department of Molecular & Integrative Physiology at the University of Michigan.
Sestrin boosts stamina
To force physical exertion in Drosophila flies, the team placed the insects in test tubes which they instinctively climbed out of, expending energy and stressing their muscles in the process. Some of the flies were able to naturally produce Sestrin while others had this function bred out. The team observed the flies for three weeks and found that insects with the physical ability to produce Sestrin had significantly more stamina than their non Sestrin producing counterparts.
"Flies can usually run around four to six hours at this point and the normal flies' abilities improved over that period," says co researcher professor Jun Hee Lee, Ph.D. "The flies without Sestrin did not improve with exercise."
Improving biological activities via metabolic pathways
Furthermore, the team noted that when Sestrin was overexpressed the flies performed even better, even without exercise. As well as improving physical endurance, the team assert the naturally occurring protein improves aerobic capacity, respiration and fat burning efficiency. Moving forward, Lee hopes the independent study can be used to develop muscle treatments for people who cannot exercise.
"We propose that Sestrin can coordinate these biological activities by turning on or off different metabolic pathways," adds Lee. "This kind of combined effect is important for producing exercise's effects."
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