The impact of physical activity and nutrition on inflammatory bowel disease: the potential role of cross talk between adipose tissue and skeletal muscle

J Physiol Pharmacol. 2013 Apr;64(2):143-55.


Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are both chronic inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) characterized by a cyclical nature, which alternates between active and quiescent states, ultimately impairing a patients' quality of life. The etiology of IBD is not known but it likely involves a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental risk factors. Physical exercise has been suggested to provide protection against the onset of IBD, but there are inconsistencies in the findings of the published literature. Current research recommends exercise to help counteract some IBD-specific complications and preliminary studies suggest that physical activity may be beneficial in reducing the symptoms of IBD. Obesity is becoming more prevalent in patients diagnosed with IBD and may be associated with higher disease activity. There is evidence that adipokines are involved in the inflammatory and metabolic pathways. Hypertrophy of the mesenteric white adipose tissue has been long recognized as a characteristic feature of Crohn's disease; however its importance is unknown. Recent data suggest that dysregulation of adipokine secretion by white adipose tissue is involved in the pathogenesis of Crohn's disease. Skeletal muscle was shown to produce biologically active myokines, which could be a important contributor to the beneficial effects of exercise. There is mounting evidence for the bi-directional endocrine cross talk between adipose tissue and skeletal muscle. The objective of the present review is to explore the role of exercise and its impact on IBD. Also, we discuss how current discoveries regarding the importance of adipokines and myokines and their cross talk expand our view of the pathological changes and the therapeutic options for IBD.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipokines / metabolism
  • Adipose Tissue / physiology
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / metabolism
  • Motor Activity*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Obesity / epidemiology


  • Adipokines