WASHINGTON: A recent experimental study shows how regular exercise modulates iron metabolism in both the brain and muscles. The results also help better understand the benefits of exercise in Alzheimer’s disease.
The study was published in a special issue of the International Journal of Molecular Sciences entitled Redox-Active Metals in Neurodegenerative Diseases: Therapeutic Implications.
It is known that dysregulation of iron metabolism and iron accumulation in the brain has been linked to aging and AD, although the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. Iron exposure and inflammation are known to regulate the synthesis of hepcidin, the main iron-regulating protein.
The inflammation-modulating cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6), which is also known to modulate brain-muscle crosstalk, is particularly involved in activating hepcidin synthesis in the brain. Although regular exercise is known to have beneficial effects on overall iron metabolism and anti-inflammatory effects, the role of regular exercise in iron homeostasis in the brain and in association with AD remains unclear.
Researchers used wild-type mice and 5xFAD transgenic mice and modeled AD to study the effect of regular exercise on modulation of iron homeostasis. Half of the mice were able to use a running bike without restrictions during the six-month experiment. The content of iron and iron-related proteins was analyzed in the brain and in the skeletal muscles. The researchers also examined the potential involvement of iron in the crosstalk between the brain and the periphery with regular exercise.
The current study shows that regular exercise modulates iron storage and trade in both the brain and skeletal muscles. In addition, this study is the first to report reductions in cortical hepcidin levels in response to regular exercise. The results suggest that IL-6 is a key modulator of hepcidin in exercise-induced iron modulation in the brain.
These results will help better understand why regular exercise is beneficial in AD and may provide new insights for disease prevention or effective treatment approaches.