Exercise grows brain cells and protects against Alzheimer's

Exercise grows brain cells and protects against Alzheimer's

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Exercise releases the hormone Irisin, which protects against Alzheimer's

Can sport and physical activity protect people from developing Alzheimer's? Researchers have now discovered that physical activity triggers a hormone that can contribute to brain cell regrowth. This appears to lead to improved protection against Alzheimer's.

Columbia University scientists found in their latest research that exercise training in humans reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease by protecting a released hormone called irisin from memory loss and brain damage. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Nature Medicine".

Exercise protects the brain

A new series of studies has shown that a hormone (Irisin) released during exercise can protect Alzheimer's patients and animals from memory loss and brain damage. In experiments on mice, the experts noticed that the animals did not develop memory disorders, even though they were infused with beta-amyloid (the protein involved in the development of Alzheimer's that deposits in the brain). The reason for this could be the physical activity of the mice. The animals swam almost everyone for a period of five weeks, the experts say.

People should do more sports

This finding suggests that exercise and activity can actually protect against dementia. In addition, the drug Irisin appears to have a potential to prevent the disease, explain the doctors. The results should encourage people to exercise more, this would promote their brain function and overall health, adds study author Professor Dr. Ottavio Arancio from Columbia University. Unfortunately, sport is not possible for everyone, especially for people with age-related diseases such as heart disease, arthritis or dementia. For these people in particular there is a special need for drugs that can mimic the effects of irisin, protect synapses and prevent cognitive decline, the expert emphasizes. Despite decades of research and many studies, no drug has been found that cancels or prevents Alzheimer's.

Irisin promotes the growth of brain cells in the hippocampus

The hormone Irisin promotes the growth of brain cells in the hippocampus, a region of the brain that is associated with memory and learning. Only two areas of the brain can regrow brain cells in adulthood and the hippocampus is one of the first areas to deteriorate in people with Alzheimer's. Irisin could help explain why physical activity improves memory and appears to play a protective role in brain diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, explains Professor Dr. Arancio.

People with Alzheimer's have lower levels of irisin

Using tissue samples from brain banks, the scientists found that irisin is present in the human hippocampus and that hormone levels in the hippocampus are lower in people with Alzheimer's. Animal studies dealing with the effects of Irisin on the brain found that it protects brain synapses and memory. When irisin was deactivated in the hippocampus of healthy mice, the synapses and memory were weakened. Increasing the level of irisin in the brain improved synapses and memory.

More research is needed

Blocking Irisin with one drug completely eliminated the benefits of swimming for mice's memory, the researchers say. Mice that swam and were treated with irisin-blocking substances did not perform better in memory tests than the other animals after infusions with beta-amyloid. Scientists are now looking for active pharmaceutical ingredients that can increase or mimic the hormone in the brain. (as)

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