Department of Morphology, Surgery and Experimental Medicine, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy.
The genetic heritage for decades has been considered to respond only to gene promoters or suppressors, with specific roles for oncogenes or tumor-suppressor genes. Epigenetics is progressively attracting increasing interest because it has demonstrated the capacity of these regulatory processes to regulate the gene expression without modifying gene sequence. Several factors may influence epigenetics, such as lifestyles including food selection. A role for physical exercise is emerging in the epigenetic regulation of gene expression. In this review, we resume physiological and pathological implications of epigenetic modification induced by the physical activity (PA). Inflammation and cancer mechanisms, immune system, central nervous system, and the aging process receive benefits due to PA through epigenetic mechanisms. Thus, the modulation of epigenetic processes by physical exercise positively influences prevention, development, and the course of inflammatory and cancer diseases, as well as neurodegenerative illnesses. This growing field of studies gives rise to a new role for PA as an option in prevention strategies and to integrate pharmacological therapeutic treatments.
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