Scientists have found that blood from healthy active mice can help protect sedentary mice against inflammation of the brain, one of the key risks of Alzheimer’s disease. The effects have been pegged on a certain protein that active mice produce in abundance.

The new research could soon lead to similar treatments for humans. It is already well know that physical inactivity is a serious risk factor for Alzheimer’s.

The findings, published in the journal Nature, provides further insight into the mechanisms linking physical activity and good brain health.

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The blood of the active: a new treatment for Alzheimer’s?


Estimates show the number of dementia cases worldwide is set to triple to over 150 million by 2050 due to an aging global population. With no obvious cure in sight, there’s an increasing focus on strategies to mitigate the risk of developing the frightening condition, and these include increasing levels of activity.

Recent research has suggested that inactive people are just as likely to develop dementia as those who carry particular genes which increase the risk of Alzheimer’s. People over 65 who rarely exercise are among the most likely to develop the disease, even if they don’t possess any genetic risk factors.

Neuro-inflammation is one factor that speeds the progression of Alzheimer’s, and this became the focus of the team that carried out the new research.

The team analysed blood samples from fit and unfit mice of the same age. Their tests showed that transfusions from the the fit to the unfit mice were able to decrease neuro-inflammation and improved cognitive performance.

The researchers isolated a blood protein, known as clusterin, that plays a central role to the phenomenon. Clusterin binds to receptors on cells that line the blood vessels of the brain. These cells have been found to be inflamed in most Alzheimer’s patients, Prof. Tony Wyss-Coray, lead author, explains.

In the new study, researchers placed running wheels in the cages of three-month-old lab rodents. A month of exercise substantially increased the quantity of neurons and other brain cells compared to the inactive mice.

The researchers then collected blood from both groups and injected a new group of sedentary mice with cell-free plasma from either type, every three days. Each transfusion was equivalent to 7 or 8% of their total blood volume — or half to three-quarters of a pint in a human.

On two different lab tests of memory, sedentary mice injected with marathoner plasma outperformed those getting “couch-potato” blood transfusions. They also had more cells that give rise to new neurons in the hippocampus; the brain region which controls memory and navigation.

“The mice getting runner blood were smarter,” says Prof. Wyss-Coray.

Scans showed that around 2,000 genes were switched on in response to the plasma from the fit mice. The 250 whose activation levels changed most were strongly linked to less brain inflammation.

Just four weeks of eating processed food can lead to memory loss: shocking study!

Shocking new research has revealed that eating processed food for just four weeks can cause memory loss in rats.

The memory loss appears to be linked to massively increased levels of inflammation in the rats’ brains as a result of taking up the new diet.

Different groups of rats were fed a study diet that aimed to mimic ready-to-eat human foods that are often packaged for long shelf lives, such as potato chips and other snacks, frozen dishes like pasta dishes and pizzas, and deli meats containing preservatives.

The researchers randomly assigned 3-month-old and 24-month-old male rats to their normal chow (32% calories from protein, 54% from wheat-based complex carbs and 14% from fat), a highly processed diet (19.6% of calories from protein, 63.3% from refined carbs (cornstarch, maltodextrin and sucrose) and 17.1% from fat), or the same processed diet supplemented with DHA.

The researchers noted that, after four weeks on these diets, genes linked to a powerful pro-inflammatory protein and other markers of inflammation were activated at a significantly elevated level in the hippocampus and amygdala of the older rats that ate the processed diet alone compared to young rats on any diet and also older rats that ate the DHA-supplemented processed food.

Shockingly, the older rats on the processed diet showed signs of memory loss in behavioral experiments that weren’t evident in the young rats. They forgot having spent time in an unfamiliar space within a few days, a sign of problems with contextual memory in the hippocampus, and did not display anticipatory fear behavior to a “danger cue” (something suggesting danger, like a cat); this suggested abnormalities in the amygdala.


“The runners’ blood was clearly doing something to the brain, even though it had been delivered outside the brain, systemically,” Prof. Wyss-Coray says.

Further analysis showed that removing the clusterin from the runners’ plasma almost entirely reduced its anti-inflammatory effect.

The study authors followed up the rodent tests with a six-month aerobic exercise program involving 20 military veterans, all of whom had mild cognitive impairment, which can lead to Alzheimer’s.

As a result of the exercise program, they also had elevated levels of clusterin in their blood.

This follow-up test with human subjects raises the clear possibility of future treatments for brain conditions using clusterin or drugs that mimic its abilities to bind to receptors on brain endothelial cells.

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