Molecular Mechanisms Underlying Cardiac Adaptation to Exercise

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


External Institution(s)

  • Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute


Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1012-1026
Number of pages15
JournalCell metabolism
Issue number5
StatusPublished - May 2 2017


Exercise elicits coordinated multi-organ responses including skeletal muscle, vasculature, heart, and lung. In the short term, the output of the heart increases to meet the demand of strenuous exercise. Long-term exercise instigates remodeling of the heart including growth and adaptive molecular and cellular re-programming. Signaling pathways such as the insulin-like growth factor 1/PI3K/Akt pathway mediate many of these responses. Exercise-induced, or physiologic, cardiac growth contrasts with growth elicited by pathological stimuli such as hypertension. Comparing the molecular and cellular underpinnings of physiologic and pathologic cardiac growth has unveiled phenotype-specific signaling pathways and transcriptional regulatory programs. Studies suggest that exercise pathways likely antagonize pathological pathways, and exercise training is often recommended for patients with chronic stable heart failure or following myocardial infarction. Herein, we summarize the current understanding of the structural and functional cardiac responses to exercise as well as signaling pathways and downstream effector molecules responsible for these adaptations.