Department of Exercise Science and Sports Studies
EXERCISE AND THE MICROBIOME
Recently the human and animal gut microbiome has received widespread attention, and rightly so, as this group of organisms is responsible for 36% of host systemic metabolites. The gut-host network consists of a delicate balance between the Firmicutes and Bacteriodetes. This balance between these two major phyla appears to be important in determining a certain metabolic phenotype in the host. Conversely, host behaviors can in turn impact gut microbiome populations. This has been shown clearly in animal studies where high-fat diets have been found to alter the relative abundance of Firmicutes and Bacteriodetes. Our lab has recently demonstrated for the first time that exercise is also potent effector of gut microbial ecology. Overall, exercise appears to produce a 40% variation in gut microbial communities even when the animals are placed on a high-fat diet (HFD). The results show several very clear alterations, with different peaks representing distinct microbial communities, between animals in both sedentary and exercise conditions with access to high-fat and normal energy. We also identified several peaks (microbial communities) present only in exercised animals. Our sequenced DNA showed distinct clustering of the exercise animals within the Firmicutes phylum, that again, are distinct from the sedentary clusters. In addition, preliminary histology from our lab shows that exercise can preserve intestinal morphology and reduce inflammation, potential mechanisms by which the microbiome may be altered with exercise. This research provides novel results regarding the impacts exercise has on the gut microbiome and intestinal health.