Study Suggests Exercise May Boost Brain Power in Alzheimer's
In This Article
- Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital found that exercise promotes neurogenesis, the growth of new brain cells, in mice with a form of Alzheimer's
- The researchers determined the precise protein and gene targets to stimulate the process
- The team now hopes to see if promoting neurogenesis in patients with Alzheimer's will alleviate the symptoms of the disease and if doing so in currently healthy individuals will prevent symptoms later on
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Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital conducted a study on the effects of exercise on mice with a form of Alzheimer's disease. They found that exercise promoted neurogenesis, the growth of new brain cells, which improved the thinking abilities of the mice. The results show that researchers can attempt to develop new drugs and therapies that may help people with Alzheimer's disease in the way that exercise benefits mice.
"While we do not yet have the means for safely achieving the same effects in patients, we determined the precise protein and gene targets for developing ways to do so in the future," says study lead author Se Hoon Choi, PhD, a researcher in Mass General's Genetics and Aging Research Unit.
The study "showed that exercise is one of the best ways to turn on neurogenesis," says Rudolph Tanzi, PhD, director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit, vice chair of the Department of Neurology, and co-director of the Henry and Allison McCance Center for Brain Health.
"And then, by figuring out the molecular and genetic events involved," he says, "we determined how to mimic the beneficial effects of exercise through gene therapy and pharmacological agents."
Though the results of animal studies don't always manifest similarly in people, Dr. Tanzi is optimistic about the future.
"We will next explore whether safely promoting neurogenesis in Alzheimer's patients will help alleviate the symptoms of the disease, and whether doing so in currently healthy individuals earlier in life can help prevent symptoms later on," says Dr. Tanzi.
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