Missing gene turns you into couch potato

September 6th, 2011 - 5:25 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Sep 6 (IANS) Couch potatoes can’t help being what they are — a missing gene may explain why they are so lazy and inactive.

Researchers rendered healthy mice slow and slothful by separating two genes in muscles crucial for exercise.

The genes control the activated protein kinase (AMPK), an enzyme that is switched on when you exercise, the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports.

Gregory Steinberg, associate professor of medicine at McMaster University in Canada, said: “Mice love to run. While the normal mice could run for miles, those without the genes. . . could only run the same distance as down the hall and back.”

Researchers found the mice without the muscle AMPK genes had lower levels of mitochondria (which powers a cell) and an impaired muscle ability to take up glucose while they exercise.

The findings are important for individuals who find it difficult to exercise, such as the obese, asthmatics and people in wheelchairs, added Steinberg.

Their inability to exercise may lead to other complications such as diabetes and heart disease.

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