Increased proinflammatory and oxidant gene expression in circulating mononuclear cells in older adults: amelioration by habitual exercise

Physiol Genomics. 2011 Jul 27;43(14):895-902. doi: 10.1152/physiolgenomics.00204.2010. Epub 2011 May 24.


We tested the hypothesis that peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) of older adults demonstrate a proinflammatory/-oxidative gene expression profile that can be improved by regular aerobic exercise. PBMC were isolated from young (n = 25, 18-33 yr) and middle-aged/older (n = 40, 50-76 yr) healthy adults. The older adults had greater mRNA expression (real-time RT-PCR) of the proinflammatory/-oxidant transcription factor nuclear factor-κB (1.58-fold, P < 0.05) and receptor for advanced glycation end products (1.12-fold, P < 0.05), the proinflammatory cytokines tumor necrosis factor-α (1.90-fold, P < 0.05) and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (1.47-fold, P < 0.05), and the oxidant-producing enzymes nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate-oxidase (0.91-fold, P < 0.05) and inducible nitric oxide synthase (2.60-fold, P < 0.05). In 11 subjects (58-70 yr), maximal oxygen consumption (+11%) and exercise time (+19%) were increased (both P < 0.001), and expression of the above proinflammatory/-oxidative genes was or tended to be decreased in PBMC after vs. before 2 mo of aerobic exercise (brisk walking ∼6 days/wk, 50 min/day, 70% of maximal heart rate). Expression of interleukin-6 was not different with age or exercise intervention. Age group- and exercise intervention-related differences in gene expression were independent of other factors. PBMC of healthy older adults demonstrate increased expression of several genes associated with inflammation and oxidative stress, which is largely ameliorated by habitual aerobic exercise. This proinflammatory/-oxidative gene signature may represent a therapeutic target for lifestyle and pharmacological prevention and treatment strategies.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism*
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxidants / metabolism*
  • Oxidative Stress / genetics*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Young Adult


  • Antioxidants
  • Biomarkers
  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Oxidants
  • RNA, Messenger