Mice who keep their brains and bodies busy in an "enriched" environment of chew toys, running wheels, and tunnels have lower levels of the peptides and brain plaques associated with Alzheimers disease compared to mice raised in more sparse conditions, according to a new study in the 11 March issue of the journal Cell.
Levels of b-amyloid peptides, which clump together to form the brain "tangles" or plaques that are toxic to nerve cells in Alzheimers disease, were significantly lower in the enriched mice, say Sangram Sisodia, of the University of Chicago, and colleagues. The enriched mice may have been better equipped than their less-stimulated counterparts to sweep these peptides out of the brain, according to the researchers analysis of gene and enzyme expression in the animals.
"This goes back to the old idea of use it or lose it, that using your brain keeps it more active," Sisodia says. "Its more common sense than anything, but what we didnt previously appreciate is that it might affect the pathology that is characteristic of Alzheimers disease."
Heidi Hardman | EurekAlert!
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