Exercise may reverse signs of ageing by 'flushing' fat from muscle, study finds

Published Apr 18, 2024


A new study published recently in the journal Nature Aging has uncovered a potential link between a specific type of fat molecule and the ageing process.

Researchers have identified bis(monoacylglycero)phosphate (BMP) as a lipid that accumulates at higher levels in the muscles of older individuals with short periods of exercise having shown to significantly reduce BMP levels, suggesting a potential strategy for reversing age-related changes in muscle tissue.

The study, led by Dr George Janssens, an assistant professor of genetic metabolic disease at Amsterdam UMC, utilised advanced lipidomics technology to analyse the fats of both young and old mice.

The researchers discovered a consistent increase in BMP levels in aged mice across multiple tissues, indicating a potential role for this lipid in the ageing process.

Further investigation involved analysing muscle tissue biopsies from human volunteers of varying ages. Similar to the findings in mice, BMP accumulation was observed in ageing human muscle tissue, highlighting the relevance of this lipid to human ageing.

One of the most striking findings of the study was the rapid reduction in BMP levels observed in individuals who engaged in short-term exercise.

Even after just one hour of daily exercise for four consecutive days, participants showed significant decreases in BMP levels compared to sedentary individuals.

This suggests that regular exercise may play a crucial role in mitigating age-related changes in muscle tissue.

Historically, there has been a distinct lack of detailed studies of fat molecules, "so it was great to see this study doing such a comprehensive analysis of the changes in many different tissues in mice and humans," Dr. Alexandra Stolzing, a professor of bio-gerontological engineering at Loughborough University who was not involved in the study, told LiveScience via email.