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Active Life Decelerates Alzheimer's

processing of APP between the two groups. So how did environmental stimulation prevent disease?

To answer this question, Ambrée et al. performed DNA microarray analysis to determine which genes were differentially regulated in mice housed in the enriched environment compared to standard cages. Enriched mice exhibited down-regulation of pro-inflammatory genes but up-regulation of genes related to anti-inflammatory processes, protein degradation and cholesterol binding. These results were confirmed by specifically analyzing gene expression for examples in each category. Together these data suggest that an enriched environment elicits protection via pathways that prevent A? accumulation and enhance its clearance.

The authors speculate that the altered expression of inflammatory genes may shift the immune response from one that is neurotoxic to one that is phagocytic, i.e., able to clear unwanted debris, such as A?. In accordance with this, a significant enhancement of microglial activity was found by Western blot and morphometric analyses of microglia, which often surround and infiltrate A? plaques. In addition, activating cellular protein degradation pathways provides another means of removing excess A?. Finally, changes in cholesterol homeostasis, elements of which have been shown to correlate with A? deposition, may exert beneficial effects by preventing plaque formation in the first place.

These data provide strong evidence that an environment rich in mental and physical stimulation slows the progression of Alzheimer-like brain pathology. Further investigation of the pathways and individual elements involved in such protection may provide novel treatment strategies for Alzheimer's disease. Until that time, keep your running shoes and crossword puzzles handy.

Source:eurekalert
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