Consistent exercise can potentially help slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease, according to a study conducted on rats. Regular physical activity prevented the deterioration of vital neurons associated with movement, suggesting potential benefits for individuals suffering from this neurodegenerative disorder.
- Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by the loss of dopamine-producing neurons in the substantia nigra, a brain region involved in movement, leading to symptoms such as tremors and impaired balance.
- The study involved injecting abnormal protein strands characteristic of Parkinson’s disease into the striatum, a brain region crucial for movement, in 19 rats. Some of these rats were given regular exercise on a treadmill.
- The researchers found that sedentary rats had significantly fewer dopamine-producing neurons in the substantia nigra, compared to the rats who exercised regularly, suggesting that exercise could protect these cells from the harmful effects of the abnormal proteins.
- Active rats maintained the ability to strengthen connections with other cells, crucial for relaying motor signals, possibly due to increased levels of certain proteins in the brain, such as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).
- The findings could pave the way for new treatments for Parkinson’s disease, potentially involving drugs that simulate the effects of exercise. However, it’s important to note that the results might not directly translate to humans as the study only focused on one aspect of Parkinson’s disease pathology.