Exercise protects against Alzheimer’s disease

Modesto Morganelli
Febbraio 12, 2019

We all know that exercise releases endorphins but that is not the only hormone it helps with.

This hormone, discovered only a few years ago, was at first believed to play a role simply in energy metabolism. 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".

Millions of people across the country are now suffering from Alzheimer's disease, and experts have yet to find a cure.

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

USA and Brazilian scientists found lower levels of the hormone in the brains of Alzheimer's patients compared with healthy individuals.

Arancio and his colleagues looked for a link between irisin and Alzheimer's.

So, the researchers chose to explore irisin's effects on mice test subjects. The experiments showed that irisin protects the brain's synapses and memory. 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. Similarly, boosting brain levels of irisin improved both measures of brain health.

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.

The findings point to irisin for potential in the creation of better therapy against dementia in humans. His team is now searching for pharmaceutical compounds that can increase brain levels of the hormone or can mimic its action. "But that's not possible for many people, especially those with age-related conditions like heart disease, arthritis, or dementia".

It suggests not only that exercise really does protect against dementia, but also that a drug which mimics irisin could be the answer to preventing the disease.

This article has been republished from materials provided by Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

Reference: Lourenco, M. V., Frozza, R. L., Freitas, G.

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