While Parkinson’s disease greatly undermines the quality of life as symptoms progress, ongoing research suggests that your risk might be modifiable. Now, a new study has identified an activity that could help halt symptoms.
Parkinson’s disease is a neurological movement disorder triggered by a loss of dopamine. This hormone plays a role in sending messages to the part of the brain that controls movement and coordination. Although it’s not exactly clear why this happens, research suggests there are certain interventions that could help.
Whether you do a bit of pilates at home or go for a cycle outdoors, exercise has been linked to plentiful health benefits.
The researchers from Johns Hopkins Medicine and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston found that a hormone released in the blood during endurance or aerobic exercises reduces levels of a protein linked to the disease.
Furthermore, this protein known as irisin was able to halt movement problems in animal models.
The exercise in question includes any activities that increase your breathing and heart rate.
From walking to swimming and biking to jumping rope, there’s plenty you can do to get this benefit.
The researchers first looked at mice engineered to have Parkinson’s disease symptoms and the role of irisin.
After these initial findings, the team confirmed their theory in additional laboratory research and clinical trials.
For unknown reasons, aerobic exercise has been linked to a symptom improvement for a while now.
The condition is characterised by motor issues, including shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with walking, balance, and coordination, the NHS reports.
To put the effects of irisin to test, the researchers began to spread small fibers of alpha synuclein, a protein that regulates moods and movements related to the brain neurotransmitter dopamine, to mice.
“When alpha synuclein proteins clump, those clusters kill dopamine-producing brain cells, a key trigger of Parkinson’s disease,” the study explains.
After, the team proved that the hormone released when exercising was able to prevent the accumulation of alpha synuclein clumps and its associated brain cell death.
They injected the mice with a viral vector, which increased blood levels of irisin, which can cross the blood-brain barrier, into the mice.
Six months later, the research saw striking results as mice that received irisin had no muscle movement deficits.
Furthermore, additional studies showed that the exercise hormone lowered levels of Parkinson’s disease-related alpha synuclein by a whopping 50 to 80 percent.
Johns Hopkins Medicine’s Ted Dawson said: “If irisin’s utility pans out, we could envision it being developed into a gene or recombinant protein therapy.”
Another researchers Dana Farber’s Bruce Spiegelman added: “Given that irisin is a naturally produced peptide hormone and seems to have evolved to cross the blood brain-barrier, we think it is worth continuing to evaluate irisin as a potential therapy for Parkinson’s and other forms of neurodegeneration.”
The inspiration for the research came from a paper, published in the journal Nature, that showed the ability of endurance exercise to release irisin peptide into the blood.
Since then, other research teams have noticed that exercise elevated the levels of this hormone, calling for research focusing on Parkinson’s disease.