Diet and exercise restore immune function in obesity

in Goldman School of Dental Medicine, Health & Medicine, News Releases
February 25th, 2011

Contact: Jackie Rubin, 617/638-4892 | jackier@bu.edu

Boston University scientists say that moderate daily exercise and dietary control might reverse immune dysfunctions found in people with obesity.

Overeating and a sedentary lifestyle are well-known risk factors for obesity, which is linked to hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, gum disease, certain cancers, and asthma.

Research has suggested that a change in immune function is a predecessor to all these diseases and researchers at Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine (GSDM) have previously shown that obesity causes immune defects that make it hard to fight infection.

Until now, little was known about how diet and exercise affects immunity in obese people.

Researchers worked with diet-induced obese mice in four groups:
• lean mice on a standard chow diet
• obese mice on a high fat diet
• obese mice on a high fat diet on a moderate exercise plan for four weeks, and
• obese, high fat diet mice given moderate exercise and a four-week standard chow diet

Moderate daily exercise and dietary control dramatically restored immune function. Obese mice saw damaged cytokines—signaling molecules that help immune cells talk to each other—repaired and an improved ability to fight gum disease as measured by bone loss.

“The study underscores the necessity to correct two important factors in obesity—diet and exercise—to improve markers of immune dysfunction and bone loss,” says senior author Dr. Salomon Amar. “The correction of one factor only may not lead to any tangible changes.”

The study, Signaling mechanisms in the restoration of impaired immune function due to diet-induced obesity, is a collaboration of GSDM Director of Anti-Inflammatory Therapeutics Dr. Salomon Amar, Boston University School of Medicine Professor Dr. Susan Leeman, and researcher Dr. Qingde Zhou. The study appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and is available online at http://www.pnas.org/content/108/7/2867.

About Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine:

The Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine will be the premier academic dental institution promoting excellence in dental education, research, oral health care, and community service to improve the overall health of the global population.

We will provide outstanding service to a diverse group of students, patients, faculty, staff, alumni, and healthcare professionals within our facilities, our community, and the world.

We will shape the future of the profession through scholarship, creating and disseminating new knowledge, developing and using innovative technologies and educational methodologies, and by promoting critical thinking and lifelong learning.

We will do so in an ethical, supportive environment, consistent with our core values of respect, truth, responsibility, fairness, compassion; and our operational values of excellence, service and effective communication in synergy with the strategic plan of Boston University.

We will support this mission using responsible financial policies and philanthropy.

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