Lifelong physical activity is associated with promoter hypomethylation of genes involved in metabolism, myogenesis, contractile properties and oxidative stress resistance in aged human skeletal muscle.
Lifelong regular physical activity is associated with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D), maintenance of muscle mass and increased metabolic capacity. However, little is known about epigenetic mechanisms that might contribute to these beneficial effects in aged individuals. We investigated the effect of lifelong physical activity on global DNA methylation patterns in skeletal muscle of healthy aged men, who had either performed regular exercise or remained sedentary their entire lives (average age 62 years). DNA methylation was significantly lower in 714 promoters of the physically active than inactive men while methylation of introns, exons and CpG islands was similar in the two groups. Promoters for genes encoding critical insulin-responsive enzymes in glycogen metabolism, glycolysis and TCA cycle were hypomethylated in active relative to inactive men. Hypomethylation was also found in promoters of myosin light chain, dystrophin, actin polymerization, PAK regulatory genes and oxidative stress response genes. A cluster of genes regulated by GSK3β-TCF7L2 also displayed promoter hypomethylation. Together, our results suggest that lifelong physical activity is associated with DNA methylation patterns that potentially allow for increased insulin sensitivity and a higher expression of genes in energy metabolism, myogenesis, contractile properties and oxidative stress resistance in skeletal muscle of aged individuals.
Sci Rep. 2019 Mar 1;9(1):3272. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-37895-8.