Exercise may protect against neurodegenerative diseases

Exercise may protect aging brains against the neurodegenerative diseases resulting from energy-depleting stress caused by neurotoxins and other factors, according to researchers at the National Institute on Aging Intramural Research Program and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
They found that running-wheel exercise increased the amount of SIRT3 in neurons of normal mice and protected them against degeneration.
However, mice models genetically modified to not produce SIRT3 became highly sensitive to stress when exposed to neurotoxins that cause neurodegeneration and epileptic seizures, and running failed to protect the neurons. In that case, neurons could be protected against stress by a gene-therapy technology to increase levels of SIRT3 in neurons, they found.
These findings suggest that bolstering mitochondrial function and stress resistance by increasing SIRT3 levels, either by exercise or gene therapy, may protect against age-related cognitive decline and brain diseases, the researchers say.