Scientists have in a breakthrough research identified a protein that acts as an “exercise sensor” which is able to detect changes in the blood flow during exercise, a finding that will mimic the positive health benefits of exercise without actually requiring to break a sweat. The study found that when the heart pumps more blood in the body during physical activity, the Piezo1 protein in the endothelium or lining of the arteries senses the increased pressure on the wall of the blood vessels. In response, it slightly alters the electrical balance in the endothelium and this results in the blood vessels constricting. This narrowing of the blood vessels reduces blood flow to the stomach and intestines, allowing more blood to reach the brain and muscles actively engaged in exercise. “If we can understand how these systems work, then we may be able to develop techniques that can help tackle some of the biggest diseases afflicting modern societies,” said lead researcher David Beech, Professor at the University of Leeds in the UK. “We know that exercise can protect against heart disease, stroke and many other conditions. This study has identified a physiological system that senses when the mammalian body is exercising,” Beech added, in the paper published in Nature Communications. Furthermore, the researchers investigated the effect of an experimental compound called Yoda1 on the action of the Piezo1 protein. They found that it mimicked the action of increasing blood flow on the walls of the endothelium which is experienced during physical activity, raising the possibility that a drug could be developed which enhances the health benefits of exercise. By modifying Piezo1 protein in the intestines can help move a step closer to having a drug that can help control cardiometabolic syndrome such as cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes, the researchers said.

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