Although many cardiovascular (CVD) medications, such as antithrombotics, statins, and antihypertensives, have been identified to treat atherosclerosis, at most, many of these therapeutic agents only delay its progression. A growing body of evidence suggests physical exercise could be implemented as a non-pharmacologic treatment due to its pro-metabolic, multisystemic, and anti-inflammatory benefits. Specifically, it has been discovered that certain anti-inflammatory peptides, metabolites, and RNA species (collectively termed “exerkines”) are released in response to exercise that could facilitate these benefits and could serve as potential therapeutic targets for atherosclerosis. However, much of the relationship between exercise and these exerkines remains unanswered, and there are several challenges in the discovery and validation of these exerkines. This review primarily highlights major anti-inflammatory exerkines that could serve as potential therapeutic targets for atherosclerosis. To provide some context and comparison for the therapeutic potential of exerkines, the anti-inflammatory, multisystemic benefits of exercise, the basic mechanisms of atherosclerosis, and the limited efficacies of current anti-inflammatory therapeutics for atherosclerosis are briefly summarized. Finally, key challenges and future directions for exploiting these exerkines in the treatment of atherosclerosis are discussed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Computer Science Applications
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Organic Chemistry
- Inorganic Chemistry