Exercise hormone halts Parkinson’s disease symptoms in mouse study

Researchers from Johns Hopkins Medicine and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston have shown that a hormone secreted into the blood during endurance, or aerobic, exercise reduces levels of a protein linked to Parkinson’s disease and halts movement problems in mice.

Parkinson’s disease, a neurologic condition that causes people to lose control over their muscles and movements, affects about 1 million people in the U.S.

If confirmed in additional laboratory research and clinical trials, the researchers’ study in mice engineered to have Parkinson’s disease symptoms could pave the way for a Parkinson’s disease therapy based on the hormone irisin.

Results of the researchers’ tests appeared Aug. 31 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Johns Hopkins Medicine’s Ted Dawson, M.D., Ph.D., and Dana Farber’s Bruce Spiegelman, Ph.D., worked together to look into the link between the exercise molecule irisin and Parkinson’s disease.

For unknown reasons, endurance exercise has long been found to alleviate symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Dawson, whose research focuses on neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s disease, said one of the first clues to the link between exercise, Parkinson’s disease and irisin came from Spiegelman, whose first paper about irisin was published in 2012 in Nature and subsequently in other scientific journals, showing that a protein called an irisin peptide is released into the blood and increases with endurance exercise.

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