A walk a day could keep Alzheimer's and dementia away - or at least delay its onset. Researchers have discovered that a chemical released during a brisk walk helps boost brain health, reported the Daily Mail on October 11. Among the exciting implications: Development of an injection to inhibit those diseases.
Released during muscular exertion, a protein called FNDC5 is released into the bloodstream as a hormone named irisin. The researchers theorize that their discovery could be used to keep brain cells healthy without requiring intense exercise.
"What is exciting is that a natural substance can be given in the bloodstream that can mimic some of the effects of endurance exercise on the brain," said professor Bruce Spiegelman, from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. "Our results indicate that FNDC5/irisin has the ability to control a very important neuro-protective pathway in the brain."
To conduct the study, researchers studied laboratory mice running on a wheel. They found that the cardiovascular activity increased the FNDC5 protein, which boosted a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic protein (BDNF) in the brain area involved in learning and memory.
The study involved a harmless virus for giving mice the protein through the bloodstream. The researchers hoped that the FNDC5 could reach the brain and boost BDNF production. When they studied the mouse brains, they did indeed find the hoped-for rise in BDNF in the hippocampus area of the brain. The next study, according to Professor Spiegelman, will involve finding methods of developing stable forms of irisin.
This new research builds on a breakthrough in Alzheimer's research that occurred recently: Read all about it by clicking here.