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Exercise Promotes Preservation of Beta Cells

Decrease of pro-inflammatory agents can reduce beta cell death in new type 1s….

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Previous studies have attempted to preserve beta cell function through immunotherapies, which reduce the inflammatory process that targets the beta cell. However, the treatment of immune suppression can lead to cancer, re-activation of previous infection and no meaningful clinical benefit.

Researchers found that physical exercise can elevate beta cell production by increasing the levels of growth hormone, IGF-1, glucagon-like-peptide, IL6 and IL1 receptor agonist. Exercise can also reduce the death of beta cells through decreasing pro-inflammatory agents, such as leptin and TNF-alpha. The authors examined 706 articles between 2009 and 2014, looking at the effects of exercise on pancreatic beta cell preservation in healthy adults. These articles showed evidence that exercise can preserve beta cell function.

Dr. Parth Narendran cautioned that physical exercise can also cause hypoglycemia. Some exercises such as long-distance running or walking will drop glucose while weight lifting will increase it. About 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week combined with some strengthening exercises can be beneficial.

The authors concluded that more studies should be conducted to explore whether exercise can help preserve pancreatic beta cell function in newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes.

Practice Pearls:

  • Previous studies showed the positive effect of physical exercise on beta cell preservation.
  • A combination of 150 minutes moderate intensity and strengthening exercises is recommended.
  • Physical exercise may help preserve beta cells through beta cell production and reduce beta cell death.

October 21 in Diabetologia