Irisin - evidence for benefits resulting from physical activity

  • Arkadiusz Bociek Faculty of Medicine and Health Science, Jan Kochanowski University, Kielce, Poland
Keywords: Exercise, Metabolic syndrome, Diabetes type 2, Atherosclerosis


Irisin is a myokine with wide metabolic action, which makes it very similar to a hormone. Its serum level depends on the expression of the genes FNDC5 and PGC-1α which, in turn, are induced, among others, by physical activity, especially aerobic exercises. According to many studies, aerobic training lasting for 45-60 minutes significantly increased the level of irisin in blood or muscles, and was considerably more effective than endurance training. Irisin shows protective properties against type 2 diabetes by decreasing insulin-resistance and against atherosclerosis by the improvement of lipid profile and anti-inflammatory action. It helps patients with overweight and obesity struggle with an excess of adipose tissue, and induces the conversion of white adipose tissue to brown. It also improves metabolic profile by the acceleration of metabolism and increase in thermogenesis. This myokine reduces the risk of occurrence of metabolic syndrome. Also, the neuroprotective effect of irisin has been confirmed, which would indicate a tremendous role of physical effort in slowing down the course of neurodegenerative diseases in seniors. In addition, irisin acts through many signal pathways exerting an anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, anti-apoptotic and anti-cancer effects, which is a potential therapeutic goal. Unfortunately, further studies concerning irisin are still needed before it can be clinically used. However, already now it may be the tool for psychologists working with persons suffering from overweight, obesity, diabetes, atherosclerosis, metabolic syndrome, neurodegenerative diseases, and many other disorders to motivate them for regular physical effort.



1. Boström P, Wu J, Jedrychowski MP, Korde A, Ye L, Lo JC, et al. A PGC1-α-dependent myokine that drives brown-fat-like development of white fat and thermogenesis. Nature. 2012; 481: 463-468.

2. Pekkala S, Wiklund PK, Hulmi JJ, Ahtiainen JP, Horttanainen M, Pöllänen E, et al. Are skeletal muscle FNDC5 gene expression and irisin release regulated by exercise and related to health? J Physiol. 2013; 591: 5393-400.

3. Lally JS V., Ford RJ, Johar J, Crane JD, Kemp BE, Steinberg GR. Skeletal muscle AMPK is essential for the maintenance of FNDC5 expression. Physiol Rep. 2015; 3: e12343.

4. Novelle MG, Contreras C, Romero-Picó A, López M, Diéguez C. Irisin, two years later. Int J Endocrinol. 2013; 2013: 1-8.

5. Algul S, Ozdenk C, Ozcelik O. Variations in leptin, nesfatin-1 and irisin levels induced by aerobic exercise in young trained and untrained male subjects. Biol Sport. 2017; 34: 339-344.

6. Blizzard LeBlanc DR, Rioux B V., Pelech C, Moffatt TL, Kimber DE, Duhamel TA, et al. Exercise‐induced irisin release as a determinant of the metabolic response to exercise training in obese youth: the EXIT trial. Physiol Rep. 2017; 5: e13539.

7. Szumilewicz A, Worska A, Piernicka M, Kuchta A, Kortas J, Jastrzębski Z, et al. The exercise-induced irisin is associated with improved levels of glucose homeostasis markers in pregnant women participating in 8-week Prenatal Group Fitness Program: a pilot study. Biomed Res Int. 2017; 2017: 1-10.

8. Archundia-Herrera C, Macias-Cervantes M, Ruiz-Muñoz B, Vargas-Ortiz K, Kornhauser C, Perez-Vazquez V. Muscle irisin response to aerobic vs HIIT in overweight female adolescents. Diabetol Metab Syndr. 2017; 9: 101.

9. Buscemi S, Corleo D, Vasto S, Buscemi C, Massenti MF, Nuzzo D, et al. Factors associated with circulating concentrations of irisin in the general population cohort of the ABCD study. Int J Obes. 2017; 42(3): 398-404.

10. Fatouros IG. Is irisin the new player in exercise-induced adaptations or not? A 2017 update. Clin Chem Lab Med. 2017; 56(4): 525-548.

11. Biniaminov N, Bandt S, Roth A, Haertel S, Neumann R, Bub A. Irisin, physical activity and fitness status in healthy humans: No association under resting conditions in a cross-sectional study. PLoS One. 2018; 13: e0189254.

12. Grygiel-Górniak B, Puszczewicz M. A review on irisin, a new protagonist that mediates muscle-adipose-bone-neuron connectivity. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2017; 21: 4687-4693.

13. Pérez-Sotelo D, Roca-Rivada A, Baamonde I, Baltar J, Castro AI, Domínguez E, et al. Lack of adipocyte-Fndc5/irisin expression and secretion reduces thermogenesis and enhances adipogenesis. Sci Rep. 2017; 7: 16289.

14. Polyzos SA, Anastasilakis AD, Efstathiadou ZA, Makras P, Perakakis N, Kountouras J, et al. Irisin in metabolic diseases. Endocrine. 2018; 59: 260-274.

15. Askari H, Rajani SF, Poorebrahim M, Haghi-Aminjan H, Raeis-Abdollahi E, Abdollahi M. A glance at the therapeutic potential of irisin against diseases involving inflammation, oxidative stress, and apoptosis: An introductory review. Pharmacol Res. 2018; 129: 44-55.

16. Deng X, Huang W, Peng J, Zhu T-T, Sun X-L, Zhou X-Y, et al. Irisin alleviates advanced glycation end products-induced inflammation and endothelial dysfunction via inhibiting ROS-NLRP3 inflammasome signaling. Inflammation. 2018; 41: 260-275.

17. Ye L, Xu M, Hu M, Zhang H, Tan X, Li Q, et al. TRPV4 is involved in irisin-induced endothelium-dependent vasodilation. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2018; 495: 41-45.

18. Chen K, Xu Z, Liu Y, Wang Z, Li Y, Xu X, et al. Irisin protects mitochondria function during pulmonary ischemia/reperfusion injury. Sci Transl Med. 2017; 9: eaao6298.

19. Wasiluk A, Szczuk J. Underweight, overweight, and obesity in boys and girls at the age of 7–18 years from eastern Poland in the years 1986-2006. Med Stud. 2015; 2: 99-105.

20. WHO. Nutrition, physical activity and obesity Poland demographic data. World Heal Organ 2013.

21. Bonfante ILP, Chacon-Mikahil MPT, Brunelli DT, Gáspari AF, Duft RG, Oliveira AG, et al. Obese with higher FNDC5/Irisin levels have a better metabolic profile, lower lipopolysaccharide levels and type 2 diabetes risk. Arch Endocrinol Metab. 2017; 61: 524-533.

22. Briganti SI, Gaspa G, Tabacco G, Naciu AM, Cesareo R, Manfrini S, et al. Irisin as a regulator of bone and glucose metabolism: a narrative review. Minerva Endocrinol. 2018; 43(4): 489-500.

23. Shim YS, Kang MJ, Yang S, Hwang IT. Irisin is a biomarker for metabolic syndrome in prepubertal children. Endocr J. 2017; 65: 23-31.

24. Kurdiova T, Balaz M, Vician M, Maderova D, Vlcek M, Valkovic L, et al. Effects of obesity, diabetes and exercise on Fndc5 gene expression and irisin release in human skeletal muscle and adipose tissue: in vivo and in vitro studies. J Physiol. 2014; 592: 1091-107.

25. Szczekala KM, Ślusarska BJ, Goś AB. Motivational interviewing in obesity reduction. Med Stud. 2017; 1: 73-80.

26. Brailoiu E, Deliu E, Sporici RA, Cristina Brailoiu G. Irisin evokes bradycardia by activating cardiac-projecting neurons of nucleus ambiguus. Physiol Rep. 2015; 3: e12419.

27. Guo W, Zhang B, Wang X. Lower irisin levels in coronary artery disease: a meta-analysis. Minerva Endocrinol. 2017; doi: 10.23736/S0391-1977.17.02663-3.

28. Tanhaei S, Nikpour P, Ghaedi K, Rabiee F, Homayouni Moghadam F, Nasr-Esfahani MH. RNA/protein discordant expression of Fndc5 in central nervous system is likely to be mediated through microRNAs. DNA Cell Biol. 2018: dna.2017.4067.

29. Gmiąt A, Jaworska J, Micielska K, Kortas J, Prusik K, Prusik K, et al. Improvement of cognitive functions in response to a regular Nordic walking training in elderly women - a change dependent on the training experience. Exp Gerontol. 2018; 104: 105-112.

30. Kim J-H, Kim D-Y. Aquarobic exercises improve the serum blood irisin and brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels in elderly women. Exp Gerontol. 2018; 104: 60-65.

31. Wu H, Guo P, Jin Z, Li X, Yang X, Tang C, et al. Serum levels of irisin predict short-term outcomes in ischemic stroke. Cytokine. 2018: 154303.
How to Cite
Bociek, A. (2019). Irisin - evidence for benefits resulting from physical activity. European Journal of Biological Research, 9(3), 165-172. Retrieved from
Review Articles

Most read articles by the same author(s)