Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mental And Physical Exercise Delays Dementia In Fatal Genetic Disease

Date:
January 29, 2008
Source:
Howard Florey Institute
Summary:
Scientists have discovered that mental and physical stimulation delays the onset of dementia in the fatal genetic disease, Huntington's disease. This research opens up new therapeutic possibilities for other devastating and difficult to treat brain diseases, including Alzheimer's disease where dementia is a key component.

L to R: Mari Kondo, Dr Jess Nithianantharajah and Dr Laura Gray are investigating how an enriched environment can cause changes in the brain.
Credit: Image courtesy of Howard Florey Institute

Scientists at Melbourne's Howard Florey Institute have discovered that mental and physical stimulation delays the onset of dementia in the fatal genetic disease, Huntington's disease.

This Australian research opens up new therapeutic possibilities for other devastating and difficult to treat brain diseases, including Alzheimer's disease where dementia is a key component.

The Florey's Dr Jess Nithianantharajah and Dr Anthony Hannan showed mice with the Huntington's disease gene displayed impairments on learning and memory tests at an early stage of the disease, prior to the obvious signs of movement problems. This closely correlates with observations in Huntington's disease patients.

However, Dr Jess Nithianantharajah said by providing the mice with an enriched environment that enhanced their mental and physical stimulation, the mice performed better on these memory tests.

"This discovery is quite remarkable because we have shown that an enriched environment not only delayed the onset of dementia, but it also slowed the progression of memory loss in these mice," Dr Jess Nithianantharajah said.

"We also showed that in the Huntington's disease mice, specific molecular changes occur that relate to communication between brain cells (synapses) in a region of the brain called the hippocampus, which plays a significant role in the formation of memories.

"The Huntington's disease mice without increased mental and physical activity showed decreased levels of specific proteins that are expressed at the synapse, which are essential for normal brain function.

"But the Huntington's disease mice exposed to increased mental and physical activity did not show this decrease," she said.

Huntington's is a very powerful model for nature-versus-nurture investigations. This discovery implies that gene-environment interactions and how they affect changes in the brain's pathways is important for all brain diseases.

Treatments for complex psychiatric disorders, like depression and schizophrenia, may also benefit from these research efforts.

This research was recently published in the international Journal of Neurobiology of Disease and involved collaborations between the Howard Florey Institute and the University of Melbourne.

Huntington's disease is an inherited disease that affects specific areas of the brain. It is caused by a mutation in a single gene and is inherited by 50 percent of the offspring of patients. A common symptom is the jerky movement of the arms and legs, known as 'chorea', but patients also have difficulties with concentration and memory, as well as psychiatric symptoms such as depression. These symptoms gradually become more severe over the years, inevitably leading to death.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Howard Florey Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Howard Florey Institute. "Mental And Physical Exercise Delays Dementia In Fatal Genetic Disease." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 January 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080124092540.htm>.
Howard Florey Institute. (2008, January 29). Mental And Physical Exercise Delays Dementia In Fatal Genetic Disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080124092540.htm
Howard Florey Institute. "Mental And Physical Exercise Delays Dementia In Fatal Genetic Disease." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080124092540.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

AP (Apr. 16, 2014) Pushing the limits on style and self-expression is a rite of passage for teens and even younger kids. How far should schools go with their dress codes? The courts have sided with schools in an era when school safety is paramount. (April 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Couples Who Sleep Less Than An Inch Apart Might Be Happiest

Couples Who Sleep Less Than An Inch Apart Might Be Happiest

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study by British researchers suggests couples' sleeping positions might reflect their happiness. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins