Molecular aspects of the cardioprotective effect of exercise in the elderly

Giuseppe Rengo, Valentina Parisi, Grazia Daniela Femminella, Gennaro Pagano, Claudio De Lucia, Alessandro Cannavo, Daniela Liccardo, Francesco Giallauria, Oriana Scala, Carmela Zincarelli, Pasquale Perrone Filardi, Nicola Ferrara, Dario Leosco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aging is a well-recognized risk factor for several different forms of cardiovascular disease. However, mechanisms by which aging exerts its negative effect on outcome have been only partially clarified. Numerous evidence indicate that aging is associated with alterations of several mechanisms whose integrity confers protective action on the heart and vasculature. The present review aims to focus on the beneficial effects of exercise, which plays a pivotal role in primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular diseases, in counteracting age-related deterioration of protective mechanisms that are crucially involved in the homeostasis of cardiovascular system. In this regard, animal and human studies indicate that exercise training is able: (1) to improve the inotropic reserve of the aging heart through restoration of cardiac β-adrenergic receptor signaling; (2) to rescue the mechanism of cardiac preconditioning and angiogenesis whose integrity has been shown to confer cardioprotection against ischemia and to improve post-myocardial infarction left ventricular remodeling; (3) to counteract age-related reduction of antioxidant systems that is associated to decreased cellular resistance to reactive oxygen species accumulation. Moreover, this review also describes the molecular effects induced by different exercise training protocols (endurance vs. resistance) in the attempt to better explain what kind of exercise strategy could be more efficacious to improve cardiovascular performance in the elderly population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)487-497
Number of pages11
JournalAging clinical and experimental research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013


  • Adrenergic receptors
  • Aging
  • Angiogenesis
  • Exercise

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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