Imagine a future where the beneficial effects of exercise could be recreated in a brain ravaged by the cell loss, plaques, and tangles associated with Alzheimer’s disease. To this end, it would be crucial to first determine the biochemical changes that could improve memory in a brain experiencing the early stages of dementia. Drs. Rudy Tanzi, Se Hoon Choi, and their colleagues—whose research has just been published in Science—recently took a major step toward fulfilling this goal. The group uncovered
how exercise and neurogenesis work collaboratively to enhance the likelihood that new neurons will survive to play a role in protecting against cognitive decline.
Combined adult neurogenesis and BDNF mimic exercise effects on cognition in an Alzheimer’s mouse model
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathology destroys neurons and synapses in the brain, leading to dementia. The brain generates new neurons throughout life in the hippocampus, a process called adult hippocampal neurogenesis (AHN). Choi et al. found that blocking AHN exacerbated cognitive impairment in an AD mouse model (see the Perspective by Spires-Jones and Ritchie). Inducing neurogenesis alone did not improve cognition in AD mice, whereas inducing neurogenesis while simultaneously ameliorating the neuronal environment via exercise did. The use of genetic or pharmacological treatments that simultaneously induced neurogenesis and increased levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) mimicked the benefits of exercise on cognition. Thus, inducing both neurogenesis and providing BDNF may be useful as an AD therapeutic.
The Scientist: Exercise’s Benefits to Dementia can be made chemically: https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/exercises-benefits-to-dementia-can-be-made-chemically-64761
Exercise can clean up Alzheimer’s environment https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2018/09/exercise-improves-cognition-in-alzheimers-mouse-model/