Huntington’s disease affects up to one person in every 10 000, but clusters in families and certain populations. Affected people develop clusters of a defective protein in their neurons and shrinkage of brain areas associated with movement. The disorder causes disability and eventually death, but does not normally manifest until after people have had children, allowing the disease gene to be passed on.
“Although Huntington’s disease is considered the epitome of genetic determinism, environmental factors are increasingly recognised to influence the disease progress”, the researchers write.
The research team from the University of Oxford and the Howard Florey Institute, University of Melbourne, report findings of a study in mice with the genetic mutation that causes Huntington’s in humans. Just as mentally stimulating these mice by enriching their environment had previously been shown to delay onset and progression of motor symptoms, so does the simple physical activity of running in a wheel.
“Of particular interest was the fact that the wheel exercise was started in juvenile mice, much earlier than in a previous study that showed more limited protective effects of physical activity”, explains Anthony Hannan of the Howard Florey Institute. This finding suggests that the protective effect has a specific time window.
Hannan notes “Physical activity did not postpone all the motor symptoms delayed by environmental enrichment, which suggests that sensory stimulation, mental exercise, and physical activity could all be used for the benefit of human sufferers”. Early intervention is also possible in people who will develop Huntington’s, because genetic diagnosis is possible.
Density of protein aggregates in neurons and shrinkage in brain regions in mice that had benefited from physical activity were as advanced as in those raised without wheels, the authors suggest therefore that benefits stem from stimulation of neuronal receptors and other molecules that prolongs normal function and delays motor deficits.
Charlotte Webber | alfa
The interactome of infected neural cells reveals new therapeutic targets for Zika
23.01.2017 | D'Or Institute for Research and Education
Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery
20.01.2017 | GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH
For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.
According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
23.01.2017 | Process Engineering
23.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.01.2017 | Life Sciences