London: Regular exercise can keep Alzheimer's disease at bay according to a recent study done in the UK.
Exercise flushes out the toxic chemical that causes this degenerative disease of the brain in the elderly population. Exercise replaces the toxic molecules with beneficial ones that protect the nerve cell.
The research, led by Ignacio Torres-Aleman from the Cajal Institute in Madrid, found that exercise doubles the presence of the protein megalin which not only ejects a potentially destructive protein called amyloid-beta, from the brain, but also binds to insulin-like growth factor, a beneficial molecule, and transports it to the brain.
While the amyloid-beta protein, in Alzheimer's patients accumulates in clumps throughout the brain, thus causing destruction, the insulin-like growth factor helps to keep the nerve cells healthy.
The research also showed that the levels of megalin declined with age in normal mice, thus suggesting that there may be a molecular link between ageing and the neurodegenerative disease.
Ignacio Torres-Aleman said that the research had supported the idea that an active lifestyle helps to keep Alzheimer's at bay.
''Our experiments support the idea that exercise is a good approach to all types of problems in the brain and that a sedentary lifestyle is a risk factor,'' he said.
Mark Mattson, a researcher at the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore, Maryland, said that the findings were encouraging and that they could prove to play an important role in finding the cure to Alzheimer's disease.
''It's initial data but I think it has potential to be very relevant to people,'' he said.
However, Paul Adlard, a neuroscientist at the University of California, who has also studied the brains of mice in a different model of Alzheimer's disease, maintained that according to the data he had collected, exercise did not boost levels of the protective insulin-like growth factor.