How Exercise May Protect Against Alzheimer's

Posted on February 15, 2019

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Multiple past research has shown that after a vigorous exercise, a flow of endorphins is released, and endorphins is known as “feel-good” hormones that boost mood. In addition to the previous knowledge, new evidence has shown that exercise produces another hormone that may improve and protect against Alzheimer’s disease.

Exercising is known to improve memory for years, and studies suggest it may also reduce the Alzheimer’s disease. However, researchers failed to understand why. But a few years ago, exercise researchers discovered a hormone called irisin that is released into the circulation during exercise. Initial research concluded that irisin mainly played a role in energy metabolism, but recent studies had discovered that the hormone may also promote neuronal growth in the brain’s hippocampus, a brain region for learning and memory.

Researchers at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and Queens University in Canada conducted a new study to search for a link between irisin and Alzheimer’s in people. The researchers discovered that human hippocampus contain irisin and that hippocampal levels of the hormones are reduced in individuals with Alzheimer’s by using tissue samples from brain banks. To explore the effects of irisin in the brain, the researchers used mice for the experiment. In the experiment, irisin in the mice protected the brain’s synapses and the animals’ memory. This is supported by disabling irisin in the hippocampus of healthy mice lead to synapses and memory being weakened. Similarly, by increasing the amount of irisin in the hippocampus will improve both measures of brain health.

The researchers then looked at the effect of exercise on irisin and the brain. They found that mice who swam nearly every daily for five weeks did not develop memory impairment despite getting infusions of beta amyloid – the neuron-clogging, memory-robbing protein implicated in Alzheimer’s. Also, by blocking irisin with a drug will eliminate the benefits of swimming entirely. Irisin-blocking substance will cause mice who swam to perform no better on memory tests than sedentary animals after infusions with beta amyloid.

The researchers concluded that irisin could be a potential area to explore the treatment for humans with dementia. Hence, the researchers are searching for pharmaceutical compounds that can increase brain levels of the hormone or can mimic its action. They also suggested that exercising is important and is encouraged to do so, to promote brain function and overall health.

Category(s):Health Psychology

Source material from ScienceDaily

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