One of the best ways to fend off dementia at any age? Sweating, mentioned the physician

SAN FRANCISCO – If you want strong cognition and sharp thinking skills in old age, a recent study found that a proper exercise routine can go a long way in keeping your brain young – no matter how old you are.

Scientists at UC San Francisco have found that the brains of physically active older adults contain more of a certain type of protein known to improve connections between neurons and help maintain healthy cognition. Importantly, autopsies show this persists even among people whose brains contain high levels of toxic proteins linked to Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.

“Our work is the first to use human data to show that regulation of synaptic proteins is linked to physical activity and may drive the beneficial cognitive outcomes we saw,” said study lead author Kaitlin Casaletto, PhD, assistant professor of neurology, in a statement. university release.

‘Vital to fend off dementia’

While several studies have documented the benefits of exercise for brain performance among mice, consistent results among humans are more difficult to achieve. To research this topic, Dr. Casaletto teamed up with William Honer, MD, a professor of psychiatry at the University of British Columbia. The research team used data provided by Memory and Aging Project at Rush University in Chicago during their studies. The project tracked physical activity habits among a group of elderly adults – all of whom also agreed to donate their brains for analysis after death.

“Maintaining the integrity of these connections between neurons may be important for fend off dementia, because synapses are really where cognition occurs,” added Dr. Casaletto. “Physical activity—tools available—can help improve this synaptic function.”

Physical activity is nutrition for neurons

The analysis revealed that older adults who remained active displayed higher levels of a protein that allows the exchange of information between neurons. This finding pairs well with previous findings made by Dr. Honer suggests that people with more of the same proteins that were in their brains at the time of death were better able to “maintain cognition” while they were alive.

In addition, the researchers admit it was surprising to see the beneficial effects extend beyond just the hippocampus – mind memory center — to additional brain regions associated with cognitive function.

“Perhaps physical activity exerts a global sustaining effect, supporting and stimulating healthy protein function that facilitates synaptic transmission throughout the brain,” explains Dr. Honor.

As most brains age over a lifetime, they accumulate amyloid and Yes protein. Studies show both substances appear to be hallmarks of the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Today, many scientists believe amyloid is the first to form, followed by tau accumulation, ultimately resulting in the disintegration of synapses and neurons.

Dr. Casaletto previously found that synaptic integrity, regardless of whether scientists measured it in the spinal fluid of living adults or in brain tissue during autopsies, appeared to “weaker” the links between amyloid and tau, and between tau and tau. neurodegeneration.

“In older adults with higher levels of proteins associated with synaptic integrity, the neurotoxicity cascade leading to Alzheimer’s disease appears to be attenuated,” conclude the investigators. “Taken together, these two studies demonstrate the potential importance of maintaining synaptic health to support the brain against Alzheimer’s disease.”

It study published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

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