DNA Methylation in the Adaptive Response to Exercise

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.)




Emerging evidence published over the past decade has highlighted the role of DNA methylation in skeletal muscle function and health, including as an epigenetic transducer of the adaptive response to exercise. In this review, we aim to synthesize the latest findings in this field to highlight: (1) the shifting understanding of the genomic localization of altered DNA methylation in response to acute and chronic aerobic and resistance exercise in skeletal muscle (e.g., promoter, gene bodies, enhancers, intergenic regions, un-annotated regions, and genome-wide methylation); (2) how these global/regional methylation changes relate to transcriptional activity following exercise; and (3) the factors (e.g., individual demographic or genetic features, dietary, training history, exercise parameters, local epigenetic characteristics, circulating hormones) demonstrated to alter both the pattern of DNA methylation after exercise, and the relationship between DNA methylation and gene expression. Finally, we discuss the changes in non-CpG methylation and 5-hydroxymethylation after exercise, as well as the importance of emerging single-cell analyses to future studies-areas of increasing focus in the field of epigenetics. We anticipate that this review will help generate a framework for clinicians and researchers to begin developing and testing exercise interventions designed to generate targeted changes in DNA methylation as part of a personalized exercise regimen.


Genomics and Precision Medicine