Now in our 13th year of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science every day

Search the archive of over 4000 images

Exercise Pill

Molecule identified that recapitulates the benefits of exercise on nerve cell regeneration

15 May 2019

Exercise Pill

Rodents that engage in physical activity – running on a wheel, exploring their environment, and so on – have been found to recover better after spinal injuries than their sedentary counterparts. And now scientists are beginning to uncover the molecular nuts and bolts that explain why. Exercise, it turns out, modifies the chromatin [DNA’s packaging material] of nerve cells (red). Specifically, it increases the acetylation of histones [chromatin proteins] and this, in turn, increases the cells’ regenerative capacity. Excitingly, scientists have also discovered a small molecule that can recapitulate the effects of exercise, increasing histone acetylation (green/yellow) and regeneration capacity of nerves and improving recovery after spinal injury. While this molecule may lead to the development of a drug that promotes recovery and rehabilitation after nerve damage, such a drug is unlikely to replace the additional health benefits of exercise, so don’t go cancelling your gym memberships just yet.

Written by Ruth Williams

Search The Archive

Submit An Image

Follow on Tumblr

Follow on Instagram

What is BPoD?

BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

Read More

BPoD is also available in Catalan at with translations by the University of Valencia.