We recently identified physical exercise as a newly defined inducer of autophagy in vivo. Exercise induced autophagy in multiple organs involved in metabolic regulation, such as muscle, liver, pancreas and adipose tissue. To study the physiological role of exercise-induced autophagy, we generated mice with a knock-in nonphosphorylatable mutation in BCL2 (Thr69Ala, Ser70Ala and Ser84Ala) (BCL2 AAA) that are defective in exercise- and starvation-induced autophagy but not in basal autophagy. We found that BCL2 AAA mice could not run on a treadmill as long as wild-type mice, and did not undergo exercise-mediated increases in skeletal glucose muscle uptake. Unlike wild-type mice, the BCL2 AAA mice failed to reverse high-fat diet-induced glucose intolerance after 8 weeks of exercise training, possibly due to defects in signaling pathways that regulate muscle glucose uptake and metabolism during exercise. Together, these findings suggested a hitherto unknown important role of autophagy in mediating exercise-induced metabolic benefits. In the present addendum, we show that treadmill exercise also induces autophagy in the cerebral cortex of adult mice. This observation raises the intriguing question of whether autophagy may in part mediate the beneficial effects of exercise in neurodegeneration, adult neurogenesis and improved cognitive function.
C He, MC Bassik, V Moresi, K Sun, Y Wei, Z Zou, et al. Exercise-induced BCL2-regulated autophagy is required for muscle glucose homeostasis. Nature 2012; 481: 511- 5.
PMID: 22258505 DOI: 10.1038/nature10758