(HealthDay News) — A novel mechanism has been proposed for the role of exercise in mitigating the detrimental impact of a fast-food diet in mice, via prevention of cellular senescence, according to an experimental study published in Diabetes.

Marissa J. Schafer, PhD, from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and colleagues examined the extent to which diet and exercise affect the behavior and accretion of senescent cells within distinct tissues. Using transgenic mice that express enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) in response to activation of the senescence-associated p16INK4a promoter, the authors examined whether exercise prevents senescent cell accumulation and systemic metabolic dysfunction induced by a fast-food diet.

The researchers demonstrated that fast-food diet consumption caused deleterious changes in body weight and composition, and in measures of physical, cardiac, and metabolic health. A fast-food diet correlated with increases in several markers of senescence, including p16, EGFP, senescence-associated β-galactosidase, and the senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP), specifically in visceral adipose tissue. 

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Exercise was found to prevent the accumulation of senescent cells and SASP expression. Following long-term fast-food diet-feeding, exercise correlated with reductions in senescent phenotype markers in visceral adipose tissue, and attenuated physical impairments.

“These findings highlight a novel mechanism by which exercise mediates its beneficial effects and reinforce the impact of modifiable lifestyle choices on health span,” the researchers wrote.


  1. Schafer MJ, White TA, Evans G, et al. Exercise Prevents Diet-induced Cellular Senescence in Adipose Tissue. Diabetes. 2016. doi:10.2337/db15-0291.