Effects of physical exercise on inflammatory markers of atherosclerosis

Curr Pharm Des. 2012;18(28):4326-49. doi: 10.2174/138161212802481192.


It is well established that physically fit individuals have a reduced risk of developing CVD (cardiovascular disease) and other age-related chronic disorders. Regular exercise is an established therapeutic intervention with an enormous range of benefits. Chronic low-grade systemic inflammation may be involved in atherosclerosis, diabetes and in pathogenesis of several chronic pathological conditions; recent findings confirm that physical activity induces an increase in the systemic levels of a number of cytokines and chemokines with anti-inflammatory properties. The possibility that regular physical exercise exerts anti-inflammation activity, being the interaction between contracting muscle and the other tissues and the circulating cells mediated through signals transmitted by "myokines" produced with muscle contractions. To date the list of myokines includes IL-6, IL-8, and IL-15. During muscle contractions are also released IL-1 receptor antagonis and sTNF-R, molecules that contribute to provide anti-inflammatory actions. Nevertheless discrepancies, analysis of available researches seem to confirm the efficacy of regular physical training as a nonpharmacological therapy having target chronic low-grade inflammation. Given this, physical exercise could be considerate a useful weapon against local vascular and systemic inflammation in atherosclerosis. Several mechanisms explain the positive effect of chronic exercise, nevertheless, these mechanisms do not fully enlighten all pathways by which exercise can decrease inflammation and endothelial dysfunction, and hence modulate the progression of the underlying disease progress.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Atherosclerosis / physiopathology
  • Atherosclerosis / therapy*
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Disease Progression
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Therapy / methods
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / physiopathology
  • Inflammation / therapy*
  • Physical Fitness / physiology


  • Biomarkers
  • Cytokines