Exercise-induced hormone may prevent memory loss

New research, published in the Nature journal today, suggests there may be a relationship between the exercise-induced protein hormone irisin and the progression of Alzheimer's disease.

Researchers found that mice showed improved thinking and memory skills when irisin was released, and now believe that these early findings may pave the way towards new therapies for cognitive decline in people with Alzheimer’s disease. 

Dr James Pickett, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Society, said:

Although this study was only in mice, it adds to mounting evidence of the relationship between lifestyle factors, like physical fitness, and dementia. This is a promising avenue for more research and potentially new therapies in future.

'We know that exercise can decrease a person's risk of developing dementia, but still have lots to learn about its effect on cognitive decline - for example, we need to know how this hormone gets into the brain, how it works, whether it is effective in people, and whether it affects men and women in the same way - which is why we’re funding a long-term study of 700 middle-aged people at risk of dementia to better understand these links.

'With no new dementia drugs in over 15 years, we urgently need to find ways to tackle this devastating disease. We know that exercise not only helps people with dementia to manage certain side-effects but also reduces the risk of developing the condition, which gives us all more motivation for those New Year’s Resolutions to get fit and healthy.'