How exercise protects against Alzheimer's

Maricruz Casares
Febrero 12, 2019

In previous studies, exercise researchers uncovered the hormone's efficiency in increasing memory and energy metabolism.

According to a study, irisin, a hormone produced in the body after strenuous exercise, might protect neurons combating the neurodegenerative disease.

The hormone irisin was found a few years ago.

"This raised the possibility that irisin may help explain why physical activity improves memory and seems to play a protective role in brain disorders such as Alzheimer's disease", said Dr. Ottavio Arancio.

Recent research has shown that irisin promotes cell growth in the hippocampus, which is a region of the brain associated with memory and learning.

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The team including those from Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and Queens University in Canada extensively studied the connection between irisin and A;zheimer's disease.

To explore what irisin does in the brain, the team turned to mice. They noted that presence of irisin in the brain of mice can protect their memory and preserve the nerve connections called the synapses. In healthy mice, synapses and memory weakened when irisin was not found in the hippocampus. Similarly, boosting brain levels of irisin improved both measures of brain health. The researchers developed an optic probe that glows over 100 times more brightly when it detects fiber or fibrils of amyloid beta proteins; the concentrated light then oxidizes the fibers to prevent them from accumulating in the brain and affecting patient cognitive ability, and a specific binding site for the harmful proteins was identified which may pave the way for new drug treatments. It is known that beta amyloid protein causes formation of clumps within the brain that leads to symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.

The researchers wanted to see how manipulating irisin would affect the brain, so they conducted a study with mice in which subjects were made to swim every day for five weeks.

In mice who were treated with irisin-blocking substances, the benefits of swimming were eliminated and had similar memory performance compared to sedentary animals after infusions with beta-amyloid, the study found. "For those individuals, there's a particular need for drugs that can mimic the effects of irisin and protect synapses and prevent cognitive decline".

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

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