Exercise may trigger the onset of the deadly nerve disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a new study finds.
The research showed that people who exercised vigorously, and who also carried genes tied to ALS, developed the disease at younger ages than those who were sedentary. The findings suggest that exercise could exacerbate a genetic predisposition to the devastating disease.
"We are used to thinking of exercise being good. In this unusual case, intense exercise is bad for you," said study co-author Michael Snyder, chair of the Department of Genetics at Stanford University.
ALS is a progressive and fatal neurodegenerative disease that results from the death of motor neurons, or nerve cells. No one knows exactly why this happens. It is also known as Lou Gehrig's disease after the legendary baseball player who was diagnosed on his 36th birthday, after setting the record for playing the most consecutive professional baseball games. (Famous physicist Stephen Hawking was struck by the disease in his early 20s.)
Related: How did Stephen Hawking live so long with ALS?
The role of exercise in the development of ALS was controversial. The disease affects anaerobic fast-twitch muscle fibers, but systematic reviews of past research failed to show a connection between exercise and ALS. Because the disease typically presents later in life, it is often referred to as a "two-hit" disease, meaning that a person may have the genes for the disease (the first hit), but a second switch must be flipped for that person to get sick. The new study suggests that for ALS, frequent and prolonged exercise may be a "second hit" that turns such genes on or off, thereby leading to neuronal death.
For the new study, researchers relied on data from the U.K. Biobank, a biomedical database containing in-depth genetic and health information for half a million people. The researchers first identified individuals who exercised at least two to three days per week. They then used a statistical technique to analyze the relationship between exercise and ALS and found that the risk of ALS was directly proportional to the dose of frequent strenuous, and likely anaerobic, exercise.
In the second part of their study, the researchers asked 36 healthy people to do aerobic exercise, then drew blood to see how that exercise changed the expression of genes known to be associated with ALS, including the most common ALS risk gene: C9orf72. This gene codes for a protein of the same name, which is found in brain cells and other nerve cells, including those that direct movement, according to MedlinePlus, a service of the National Library of Medicine. A mutation in the gene for this protein is found in up to 40% of people with familial ALS, according to the ALS association.
Exercise reduced the expression of C9orf72, which mirrors the decreased expression found in ALS patients with a mutation in this gene.
Overall, of 43 known ALS-related genes, 52% were turned on or off following acute exercise. In the final part of the study, the researchers compared exercise history in ALS patients with a C9orf72 mutation to both ALS patients without a C9orf72 mutation and people without ALS. In ALS patients with the C9orf72 mutation, the more people exercised, the younger they tended to be at diagnosis. For those without the mutation, exercise showed a trend towards increasing likelihood of developing ALS, but that result was not statistically significant..
While strenuous exercise increased the risk of ALS, being sedentary did not decrease the risk of developing ALS, nor did having more body fat.
Snyder was surprised by the results. "I find this whole thing quite remarkable," Snyder told Live Science, "that exercise exacerbates a genetic condition for a disease."
For study co-author Johnathan Cooper-Knock, a researcher and lecturer on genetic neuromuscular diseases at the University of Sheffield in the U.K., the most surprising aspect was the significant number of known ALS risk genes that were affected by acute exercise. "This suggests that exercise could play a role in all forms of ALS, including ALS that we may have previously supposed was purely genetic," he told Live Science.
In Cooper-Knock's view, his research group has likely ended the controversy of exercises role in ALS and showed that physical exercise is a risk factor for the disease. "Our hope is that the community will build on this and take it to the next step, which is to quantify the risk of exercise-induced ALS for individuals based on their personal genetics and environment," he said.
He hopes this will lead to potential prevention measures or at least appropriate counseling. "This will allow us to identify at-risk individuals and offer individualized counseling to allow them to make informed decisions regarding their exercise habits," Cooper-Knock said.
At the moment, the researchers are not recommending that any ALS patient or family members, including individuals with C9orf72 mutations, change their exercise habits. More work needs to be done in a larger cohort, because the way the gene is expressed could vary a lot, the researchers said.
They are, however, advocating for genetic screening of ALS patients to deepen understanding of the roles genetics and environment play in the disease.
As to whether Lou Gehrig's iron streak may have led to his development of ALS, Snyder commented, "It seems very likely."
The findings were published May 26 in the journal The Lancet.
Read the rest here:
- UC Davis Health's partnership in telegenomics improves accessibility to genetic medicine with telemedicine robots - The Aggie - The Aggie - September 5th, 2021
- Could gene therapies be used to cure more people with HIV? - aidsmap - September 5th, 2021
- What to expect at the FDA's two-day meeting on gene therapy safety - BioPharma Dive - September 5th, 2021
- Global DNA Sequencing Report 2021: There is a Move Toward a More Consumer-Focused Model - Yahoo Finance - September 5th, 2021
- Agathos Biologics Receives $900,000 from the North Dakota Bioscience Innovation Grant Program - Yahoo Finance - September 5th, 2021
- New gene therapies may soon treat dozens of rare diseases, but million-dollar price tags will put them out of reach for many - The Conversation US - September 5th, 2021
- An ethical analysis of divergent clinical approaches to the application of genetic testing for autism and s... - Physician's Weekly - September 5th, 2021
- UT Southwestern selected top health care employer in Texas by Forbes - UT Southwestern - September 5th, 2021
- Opinion: Gene editing can be leveraged for the greater good with appropriate regulations - Varsity - September 5th, 2021
- Beefing up livestock disaster assistance | Farm & Ranch | willistonherald.com - Williston Daily Herald - September 5th, 2021
- Precision Medicine Platform Aims to Advance Cancer Gene Therapies - HealthITAnalytics.com - February 11th, 2021
- Celebrate the Third Annual Medical Genetics Awareness Week April 13-16, 2021 - PRNewswire - February 11th, 2021
- The race to treat a rare, fatal syndrome may help others with common disorders like diabetes - Science Magazine - February 11th, 2021
- Myriad Genetics to Participate in Multiple Upcoming Health and Technology Conferences - GlobeNewswire - February 11th, 2021
- Neurons from patient blood cells enable researchers to test treatments for genetic brain disease - Brown University - February 11th, 2021
- The science behind those afternoon naps Harvard Gazette - Harvard Gazette - February 11th, 2021
- Ensoma Launches to Pioneer Next-Generation In Vivo Approach to Deliver First Off-the-shelf Genomic Medicines - Business Wire - February 11th, 2021
- Im 28 and I Dont Know My Family HistoryHeres How That Affects My Health - Well+Good - February 11th, 2021
- Ensoma Launches with $70 Million Series A and Takeda Licensing Deal - BioSpace - February 11th, 2021
- Response to Cancer Immunotherapy May Be Affected by Genes We Carry from Birth - UCSF News Services - February 11th, 2021
- NeuBase Therapeutics Reports Financial Results for the First Quarter of Fiscal Year 2021 - GlobeNewswire - February 11th, 2021
- PM Modi Waives off Rs 6 Crore Tax on Imported Medicine for 6-month-old Baby Girl from Mumbai - News18 - February 11th, 2021
- GeneSight Psychotropic Test's Combinatorial Approach Proves Better than Single-Gene Testing at Predicting Patient Outcomes and Medication Blood Levels... - February 11th, 2021
- Reflections on the 20th Anniversary of the First Publication of the Human Genome - Scientific American - February 11th, 2021
- Stem Cell Study Illuminates the Cause of a Devastating Inherited Heart Disorder - Newswise - February 1st, 2021
- Mysterious untreatable fevers once devastated whole families. This doctor discovered what caused them - CNN - February 1st, 2021
- Decibel Therapeutics and Invitae Announce Launch of Amplify Genetic Testing Program - BioSpace - February 1st, 2021
- CCMB team identifies variants of genes that metabolise drugs - BusinessLine - February 1st, 2021
- Digbi Health's gut-microbiome and genetic-based obesity management program now allows 60,000 Doctors and Providers in Blue Shield of California's... - February 1st, 2021
- Copy number variations linked to autism have diverse but overlapping effects - Spectrum - February 1st, 2021
- Are Gene Therapies the Medicine of the Future? - BioSpace - February 1st, 2021
- Exploring the Relationship Between the Microbiome, Precision Medicine and Cancer - Technology Networks - February 1st, 2021
- Press Registration Is Now Open for the 2021 ACMG Annual Clinical Genetics Meeting - A Virtual Experience - PRNewswire - February 1st, 2021
- 4 New Life Sciences Licensing Deals and Investments to Watch - BioSpace - February 1st, 2021
- CRISPR Mutants - The Dawn of CRISPR Mutants - SAPIENS - SAPIENS - February 1st, 2021
- SMART Study Finds 22q11.2 Microdeletion Prevalence Much Higher than Expected - PRNewswire - February 1st, 2021
- Genomes, Maps, And How They Affect You - IFLScience - February 1st, 2021
- Are Phages Overlooked Mediators of Health and Disease? - The Scientist - February 1st, 2021
- Two Gene Therapies Fix Fault in Sickle Cell Disease and -thalassemia - MD Magazine - February 1st, 2021
- The First Targeted Therapy For Lung Cancer Patients With The KRAS Gene MutationExtraordinary Results With Sotorasib - SurvivorNet - February 1st, 2021
- Atsena Therapeutics Raises $55 Million Series A Financing to Advance LCA1 Gene Therapy Clinical Program, Two Preclinical Assets, and Novel Capsid... - December 17th, 2020
- Locanabio Announces $100 Million Series B Financing to Advance Portfolio of Novel RNA-Targeted Gene Therapies for Neurodegenerative, Neuromuscular and... - December 17th, 2020
- NeuBase Therapeutics Announces Positive Preclinical In Vivo Data for PATrOL-enabled Anti-gene for the Treatment of Myotonic Dystrophy Type 1 -... - December 17th, 2020
- Genetic Analysis Services Market: Uptake of Next-generation Sequencing and Multi-gene Tests to Drive Market - BioSpace - December 17th, 2020
- FDA Clears Genetic Modification in Pigs for Biomedicine and Food - The Scientist - December 17th, 2020
- Key Genes Related to Severe COVID-19 Infection Identified - The Scientist - December 17th, 2020
- UNLV Researcher on the Curious Case of COVID-19 Reinfection - UNLV NewsCenter - December 17th, 2020
- Genomics and medicine it's complicated | Health | willistonherald.com - Williston Daily Herald - December 17th, 2020
- Emedgene collaborates with Illumina to scale the interpretation of genomic data for rare diseases - PRNewswire - December 17th, 2020
- Polymerase Chain Reaction Market | Increased Outbreak of Infectious Diseases to Accentuate Demand in the Market - BioSpace - December 17th, 2020
- LogicBio Therapeutics names Daphne Karydas and Jeff Goater to Board of Directors - BioSpace - December 17th, 2020
- rBIO Achieves Crucial Milestone on Mission to Lower the Cost of Insulin by 30% - BioSpace - December 17th, 2020
- Report: More than 1,300 Medicines and Vaccines in Development to Help Fight Cancer - PRNewswire - December 17th, 2020
- San Diego's Locanabio raises $100 million for treatments aimed at degenerative diseases - The San Diego Union-Tribune - December 17th, 2020
- Worldwide SNP Genotyping Industry to 2025 - Pharmacogenomics Led the End-user Segment of the SNP Genotyping Market - ResearchAndMarkets.com - Business... - December 17th, 2020
- Potential Weakness in SARS-CoV-2 Discovered Single Protein Needed for COVID-19 Virus to Reproduce and Spread - SciTechDaily - December 17th, 2020
- Landing of $75M expansion of Texas-based Taysha adds to Triangle's growing gene therapy hub - WRAL Tech Wire - December 17th, 2020
- Track the Vax: What Do We Need to Know About the New Vaccines? - Everyday Health - December 17th, 2020
- Medical history from the year you were born - Quad City Times - December 5th, 2020
- Sarepta Therapeutics to Share Clinical Update for SRP-5051, its Investigational PPMO for the Treatment of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy - GlobeNewswire - December 5th, 2020
- Biochip Market | Increased Popularity of Personalized Medicine to Boost the Market Growth | Technavio - Business Wire - December 5th, 2020
- December: Baby birth weight research | News and features - University of Bristol - December 5th, 2020
- Global Next Generation Sequencing Market (2020 to 2026) - Growth, Trends, Competitive Landscape, and Forecasts - GlobeNewswire - December 5th, 2020
- NIH researchers link cases of ALS and FTD to a mutation associated with Huntington's disease - National Institute on Aging - December 5th, 2020
- Precision Medicine Market Poised to Grow at 11.5% By 20227 - GlobeNewswire - December 5th, 2020
- Fact check: mRNA vaccines kept at very cold temperatures so that they do not break apart; COVID-19 vaccines will not genetically modify humans -... - December 5th, 2020
- Stoke Therapeutics Announces Presentations Related to the Company's Work to Advance STK-001, the First Potential New Medicine to Target the Underlying... - December 5th, 2020
- King George III's illness debunked as symptom 'caused by medicine prescribed to him' - Express - December 5th, 2020
- Stoke Therapeutics to Present at the Needham Virtual Epilepsy & Pain Specialty CNS Therapeutics Conference - Business Wire - December 5th, 2020
- Following the science: the writers who have made sense of Covid - The Guardian - December 5th, 2020
- Gene experts claim they identified human genes that can protect against Covid-19 - CNBC - November 23rd, 2020
- Genome Medical Reaches 90 Million Covered Lives in US - PRNewswire - November 23rd, 2020
- Sarepta Therapeutics Named One of The Boston Globe's Top Places to Work 2020 - GlobeNewswire - November 23rd, 2020
- New Study Highlights the Importance of Genetic Testing for Pancreatic Cancer Patients - PRNewswire - November 23rd, 2020
- Baylor Genetics Launches Combination Test for COVID-19 and Influenza A and B; Multi-Panel Test Seeks to Address Dilemma of "Overlapping symptoms... - November 23rd, 2020
- CHOP Researchers Reverse Severe Lymphatic Disorder in Patient with Noonan Syndrome by Targeting Genetic Pathway - BioSpace - November 23rd, 2020
- Myriad Genetics Announces Global Expansion of Myriad myChoice Tumor Testing in Europe and China - GlobeNewswire - November 23rd, 2020
- Epigenetics and pulmonary diseases in the horizon of precision medicine: a review - DocWire News - November 23rd, 2020
- Four years after landing in US, graduating ISU senior is on his way to medical school - Iowa State University News Service - November 23rd, 2020
- Lethal brain infections in mice thwarted by decoy molecule - Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis - November 23rd, 2020