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27 - 12 - 2017

Parkinson's: the beneficial effects of physical exercise

A study in mice confirms the beneficial effects of physical exercise in Parkinson's disease and explores the mechanism.


Parkinson's disease affects 100,000 people in France. It is a neurodegenerative disease that causes the destruction of dopamine neurons. It appears at around 70 years old and evolves towards gait deficiencies and loss of autonomy. Current treatments fail to slow neurodegeneration.


The proliferation of toxic aggregates of alpha-synuclein protein in the vicinity of dopamine neurons appears to be the main cause of this disease.


Clinical trials have shown that exercise improves the motor function of patients.


Researchers have sought to replicate this improvement in an animal model of the disease to understand its mechanism.


For this they used a transgenic mouse model that reproduces the disease. Some mice had access to a wheel for exercise, others did not.


After three months, mice exercising showed better motor and cognitive performances. Different biochemical blood markers were modified, the amount of alpha-synuclein aggregates in the brain was decreased, while the blood concentration of this protein was increased.



It appears that exercise can slow Parkinson's disease by avoiding accumulation of alpha-synuclein aggregates in the brain. Some drugs that have effects comparable to those seen in this study on biochemical marker may also be effective.