Could a pill replicate the Alzheimer’s defense gained through exercise?

M Id Exercise
Image credit: Reuters

Mice that model a severe form of Alzheimer’s disease tend to exhibit improved memory after exercise-induced neuron production, according to a report in Science [September 6]. Similar improvements are also possible with an exercise work-around, by giving the animals a treatment to ramp-up neurogenesis together with a dose of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).

Recently, evidence from mice and postmortem human brains has indicated that altered neurogenesis may also play a part in Alzheimer’s disease pathology. On top of that, exercise, which promotes neurogenesis, counteracts Alzheimer’s pathology in mice. In humans, exercise and a healthy lifestyle are linked to a reduced risk of developing the disease.

The team discovered that, in addition to ramping up neurogenesis, exercise leads to an increase in the levels of BDNF—a factor that promotes both the survival and differentiation of brain cells. When the team genetically or pharmacologically increased BDNF levels in addition to neurogenesis in sedentary animals, “voila,” says [Rudolph] Tanzi, “we were able to mimic the effects of exercise.”

Related article:  Alzheimer's 'brain health' quiz likely to scare more than help

“It also highlights particular molecules that we might target in order to optimize the benefits of exercise, or [for patients who are disabled or frail], to take the place of the exercise altogether,” [said neurologist Samuel Gandy of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York who was not part of the research team.]

Read full, original post: Exercise’s Benefits to Dementia Can Be Made Chemically

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