How exercise may help reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease

12 Février, 2019, 16:34 | Auteur: Yves Courtet

Now evidence shows that exercise produces another hormone that may improve memory and protect against Alzheimer's disease, according to a study co-led by Ottavio Arancio, MD, PhD, a researcher at Columbia University's Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain.

Dr James Pickett, head of research at the UK's Alzheimer's Society charity, said: "Although this study was only in mice, it adds to mounting evidence of the relationship between lifestyle factors, like physical fitness, and dementia".

The hormone irisin was found a few years ago. Speaking about it, Arancio said, "This raised the possibility that irisin may help explain why physical activity improves memory and play a protective role in brain disorders such as Alzheimer's disease". Upon the newest findings, researchers now believe it may also promote neuronal growth in the hippocampus, a region of the brain vital for learning and memory.

In the new study, Arancio and his colleagues at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and Queens University in Canada first looked for a link between irisin and Alzheimer's in people.

Millions of people across the country are now suffering from Alzheimer's disease, and experts have yet to find a cure. These experiments show that irisin, in mice, protects the brain's synapses and the animals' memory: When irisin was disabled in the hippocampus of healthy mice, synapses and memory weakened. Thereafter there was a decline in memory and damage to the synapses was noted.

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The researchers then looked at the effect of exercise on irisin and the brain. It is known that beta amyloid protein causes formation of clumps within the brain that leads to symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. In experiments initiated on mice, it was found that daily swimming activities lasting no less than five weeks inhibited the development of memory deficits, this was despite infusions of beta-amyloid, a protein linked to Alzheimer's.

The researchers noticed that the positive benefits that came from swimming were cancelled out when they blocked irisin with the beta-amyloid injections.

"This is a promising avenue for more research and potentially new therapies in future".

"In the meantime, I would certainly encourage everyone to exercise to promote brain function and overall health", he says.

It suggests not only that exercise protects against dementia, but a drug which mimics irisin could prevent the disease.

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