Physical Exercise-Induced Myokines and Muscle-Adipose Tissue Crosstalk: A Review of Current Knowledge and the Implications for Health and Metabolic Diseases

Front Physiol. 2018 Sep 24;9:1307. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2018.01307. eCollection 2018.


Physical exercise has beneficial effects on metabolic diseases, and a combined therapeutic regimen of regular exercise and pharmaceutical treatment is often recommended for their clinical management. However, the mechanisms by which exercise produces these beneficial effects are not fully understood. Myokines, a group of skeletal muscle (SkM) derived peptides may play an important part in this process. Myokines are produced, expressed and released by muscle fibers under contraction and exert both local and pleiotropic effects. Myokines such as IL-6, IL-10, and IL-1ra released during physical exercise mediate its health benefits. Just as exercise seems to promote the myokine response, physical inactivity seems to impair it, and could be a mechanism to explain the association between sedentary behavior and many chronic diseases. Myokines help configure the immune-metabolic factor interface and the health promoting effects of physical exercise through the release of humoral factors capable of interacting with other tissues, mainly adipose tissue (AT). AT itself secretes proinflammatory cytokines (adipokines) as a result of physical inactivity and it is well recognized that AT inflammation can lead to the development of metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and atherosclerosis. On the other hand, the browning phenotype of AT has been suggested to be one of the mechanisms through which physical exercise improves body composition in overweight/obese individuals. Although, many cytokines are involved in the crosstalk between SkM and AT, in respect of these effects, it is IL-6, IL-15, irisin, and myostatin which seem to have the decisive role in this "conversation" between AT and SkM. This review article proposes to bring together the latest "state of the art" knowledge regarding Myokines and muscle-adipose tissue crosstalk. Furthermore, it is intended to particularly focus on the immune-metabolic changes from AT directly mediated by myokines.

Keywords: IL-6; browning; exercise-factor; immunometabolism; inflammation; irisin.

Publication types

  • Review