Italian researchers have found that the progression of Parkinson’s disease can be slowed with intense exercise, by studying rats.
The team, led by the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, and involving EARA member the University of Milan, discovered a new brain mechanism by which exercising improves the control of movement, which is impaired in Parkinson’s disease.
The researchers studied rats with symptoms of early-stage Parkinson’s as they underwent daily training sessions on a treadmill, and found that the exercising animals had more dopamine-releasing neurons than those that were sedentary.
The active rats also had less build-up in the brain of a key protein linked to Parkinson’s and loss of motor control.
In a comment for New Scientist, David Eidelberg, at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research, USA, who was not involved in the study, said: “Once you know the molecular pathways that are being induced by exercise, you could conceive of having drugs that simulate those effects.”