Exercise hormone may help combat Alzheimer’s, research suggests
A hormone released during exercise may protect the brain against Alzheimer’s disease, research suggests.
Irisin is a messenger protein generated by muscle tissue that is carried around the body in the bloodstream.
The new evidence indicates that it may be behind the known positive effects on mental performance of taking exercise.
US and Brazilian scientists found lower levels of the hormone in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients compared with healthy individuals. The same was true for the precursor protein from which irisin is derived, FNDC5.
In tests on genetically engineered mice, the scientists induced learning and memory deficits by cutting out irisin.
They were able to reverse these effects by restoring the hormone.
When irisin signalling was blocked in mice with a rodent version of Alzheimer’s, the brain benefits of physical exercise were lost.
The research, led by Dr Fernana de Felice, from the Federal University of Rio de Janerio in Brazil, is reported in the journal Nature Medicine.
Bostering irisin, either with drugs or through exercise, could provide a “novel strategy” for preventing cognitive decline in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, said the scientists.
They wrote: “Our results demonstrate that FNDC5/irisin levels are reduced in human AD (Alzheimer’s disease) brains and CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) and in AD mouse models, and that boosting either brain or peripheral FNDC5/irisin levels attenuates synaptic and memory impairments in AD mouse models.”
Further research was needed to understand exactly how irisin enters the brain and interacts with it, the team added.
British experts pointed out that the research, though promising, was at a very early stage.
Dr Rosa Sancho, from the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “We know that physical activity is linked to better brain health as we age, and this research highlights a biological mechanism that may contribute to this beneficial effect.
“These interesting findings present a new avenue for future research that could help us better understand how exercise programmes could be targeted to provide the greatest benefit to brain health.
“There are many people either with dementia or at high risk of dementia, who have health conditions that make regular exercise more difficult.
“Drugs designed to target the hormone identified in this research could potentially bring some of the benefits of physical activity to people who may be less able to exercise.”
Dr James Pickett, head of research at the Alzheimer’s Society charity, said: “Although this study was only in mice, it adds to mounting evidence of the relationship between lifestyle factors, like physical fitness, and dementia. This is a promising avenue for more research and potentially new therapies in future.”
The Press Association
Latest posts by The Press Association (see all)
- Discover 4 of the UK’s best museums - March 22, 2019
- Want to make your own almond milk? Here’s how to do it - March 21, 2019
- Carrot and Caraway cake with sour cream - March 21, 2019
- International Day of Forests: The best woodland walks to while away your weekend - March 21, 2019
- 7 things to eat and drink to help beat disease – according to a Harvard-trained doctor - March 20, 2019
Leave a Comment!
Community Terms & Conditions
These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.
You must comply with the spirit of the following standards as well as the letter. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.
be accurate (where they state facts); be genuinely held (where they state opinions); and comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted.
Contributions must not:
contain any material which is defamatory of any person; or contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory; or promote sexually explicit material; or promote violence; promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; or infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person; or be likely to deceive any person; or be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence; or promote any illegal activity; or be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety; or be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person; or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person; or give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case; or advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.
Nurturing a safe environment
Our Silversurfers community is designed to foster friendships, based on trust, honesty, integrity and loyalty and is underpinned by these values.
We don't tolerate swearing, and reserve the right to remove any posts which we feel may offend others... let's keep it friendly!