Elucidating the interaction between maternal physical activity and circulating myokines throughout gestation: A scoping review

Am J Reprod Immunol. 2021 Jul 31;e13488. doi: 10.1111/aji.13488. Online ahead of print.


Physical activity (PA) during pregnancy provides both maternal and fetal health benefits. It has been theorized that myokines, peptides secreted by contracting skeletal muscle, may play an important mechanistic role in facilitating the health benefits obtained from prenatal exercise. The objective of this review was to synthesize the current literature on the relationship between maternal PA and myokine response. A search strategy was developed using the terms pregnancy, PA, IL-6, IL-10, IL-13, and TNF-α. A systematic search was completed in July 2020, in Medline, SPORTDiscus, EMBASE, CENTRAL, and in November 2020 for unpublished dissertations (grey literature; Proquest). Both human- and animal-based studies of any design were included, while commentaries and editorial articles were excluded. Data were extracted by two independent reviewers and summarized narratively. Data were thematically summarized based on the myokine and whether findings were from human or animal studies. Ten studies were included in this review. Findings from studies that examined IL-6, IL-10, and TNF-α suggest a trimester-specific interaction between PA and myokine levels; no studies evaluated IL-13. Future research should investigate the PA-myokine relationship throughout all stages of gestation.

Keywords: IL-10; IL-13; IL-6; TNF-alpha; gestation; physical activity; pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Review