Small Amount of Exercise Could Protect Against Memory Loss in Elderly, Study Suggests
A new University of Colorado Boulder study shows that a small amount of physical exercise could profoundly protect the elderly from long-term memory loss that can happen suddenly following infection, illnesses or injury in old age.
In the study, CU-Boulder Research Associate Ruth Barrientos and her colleagues showed that aging rats that ran just over half a kilometer each week were protected against infection-induced memory loss.
“Our research shows that a small amount of physical exercise by late middle-aged rats profoundly protects against exaggerated inflammation in the brain and long-lasting memory impairments that follow a serious bacterial infection,” said Barrientos of the psychology and neuroscience department.
The results of the study will appear in the Aug. 10 edition of The Journal of Neuroscience.
“Strikingly, this small amount of running was sufficient to confer robust benefits for those that ran over those that did not run,” Barrientos said. “This is an important finding because those of advanced age are more vulnerable to memory impairments following immune challenges such as bacterial infections or surgery. With baby boomers currently at retirement age, the risk of diminished memory function in this population is of great concern. Thus, effective noninvasive therapies are of substantial clinical value.”
Past research has shown that exercise in humans protects against declines in cognitive function associated with aging and protects against dementia. Researchers also have shown that dementia is often preceded by bacterial infections, such as pneumonia, or other immune challenges.
“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to show that voluntary exercise in rats reduces aging-induced susceptibility to the cognitive impairments that follow a bacterial infection, and the processes thought to underlie these impairments,” Barrientos said.
In the study, the researchers found that rats infected with E. coli bacteria experienced detrimental effects on the hippocampus, an area of the brain that mediates learning and memory.
AMOXICILLIN is one of the most commonly used antibiotics in the world. It belongs to the spectrum of β-lactam antibiotics, and is the drug of choice when it comes to treating bacterial infections, as it is well absorbed even when given orally. Hence, it is used to treat a variety of infections, including infections of the ear, nose throat, skin infections, urinary tract infections, lower respiratory tract infections, gonorrhea and other sexually transmitted infections etc. AMOXICILLIN for sinus infection treatment is also a very well-known use of this drug. Thus, its multipurpose use makes this drug a very popular one among medical practitioners. However, amoxicillin side effects are something that doctors need to be well aware of, so as to prevent them from occurring, as they can be life-threatening at times.
One of the most serious and dangerous of all side effects is anaphylactic reaction. An anaphylactic reaction is defined as a life-threatening type 1 hypersensitivity reaction to a drug which is given internally or orally. Around 1500 patients die yearly due to an anaphylactic reaction in the United States. However, this serious allergic response of the body only occurs in those patients that have a true allergy to penicillin and its derivatives, as opposed to people who present with pseudo-anaphylaxis or an anaphylactoid reaction. An anaphylactic reaction is characterized by the following signs and symptoms:
– Normally, a true anaphylactic reaction with systemic signs and symptoms begin showing within 72 hours of exposure to the allergen, without the need of further exposure. Skin involvement is one of the first signs seen. This includes generalized hives, skin rashes, itchiness, flushing. Fever is often experienced by people, along with the skin rashes.
– Swelling of lips, tongue and/or throat is also seen, as this is the body’s way of responding and fighting the inflammation.
– Respiratory distress, in the form of difficulty in breathing, shortness of breath, wheezing etc. may also be seen.
– Some patients may also complain of gastrointestinal problems like severe abdominal cramps, stomach pain, diarrhea etc.
– Other serious effects that may occur if immediate action is not taken to deal with the symptoms includes coronary artery spasms, which may lead to myocardial infarction. Consequently, there may also be a sudden drop in blood pressure, which may lead to lightheadedness and fatigue, along with loss of consciousness.
Previous research has shown that immune cells of the brain, called microglia, become more reactive with age. When the older rats in the study encountered a bacterial infection, these immune cells released inflammatory molecules called cytokines in an exaggerated and prolonged manner.
“In the current study we found that small amounts of voluntary exercise prevented the priming of microglia, the exaggerated inflammation in the brain, and the decrease of growth factors,” Barrientos said.
The next step of this research is to examine the role that stress hormones may play in sensitizing microglia, and whether physical exercise slows these hormones in older rats, she said.
Barrientos co-authored the paper with CU-Boulder professors of psychology and neuroscience Steven Maier, Linda Watkins, Serge Campeau, Heidi Day and Susan Patterson; and CU-Boulder psychology research assistants Timothy Chapman, Matthew Frank, Nicole Crysdale and Jared Ahrendsen.
The research was funded by the National Institute on Aging, which is part of the National Institutes of Health.
University of Colorado at Boulder (2011, August 9)