Understanding the Protective Role of Irisin in Alzheimer's Disease



Exciting Findings in Alzheimer’s Research

Understanding the Protective Role of Irisin in Alzheimer's Disease
and the role of exercise in promoting the activity of neprilysin that reduces amyloid beta levels in the brain.


Recent research spearheaded by the team at Massachusetts General Hospital sheds light on the potential role of the exercise-induced hormone irisin in combating Alzheimer's disease. Irisin, which increases in the body following physical activity, seems to promote the activity of neprilysin, an enzyme that helps in reducing amyloid beta levels in the brain, a significant factor in Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer’s disease continues to be a significant concern globally, affecting both patients and their families profoundly. The medical community is continuously exploring potential preventive measures and treatments. The latest study from the Massachusetts General Hospital brings a beacon of hope in this context.


The Potential of Irisin

Researchers have unveiled the promising role of irisin in preventing Alzheimer’s disease.  Irisin is a hormone that is produced in greater quantities in the body when we exercise. This muscle-derived hormone not only aids in regulating glucose and lipid metabolism but also augments energy expenditure by fostering the browning of white fat tissue. (See this previous CMA article on Brown Fat)

Irisin appears to enhance the functioning of neprilysin, an enzyme known to combat the detrimental effects of the abnormal protein, amyloid beta, in the brain. Remarkably, irisin has shown the capacity to make its way into the brain, opening avenues for targeted therapies.


Exercise: A Shield Against Alzheimer's

Exercise, particularly weightlifting, has been known to be beneficial in safeguarding brain health in older adults. The recent study elucidates that physical activity can significantly diminish amyloid beta deposits, commonly seen in Alzheimer’s disease. This study brings to light the pivotal role of irisin in connecting exercise with reduced amyloid beta levels, fostering potential pathways for prevention and treatment strategies against Alzheimer's.

The researchers emphasized the importance of further studies to explore the specifics of how different modes and intensities of exercise can influence the concentration of irisin and other myokines, to devise more targeted approaches in Alzheimer's prevention.


Sharing This Knowledge with our Patients and Clients


As natural health professionals, it's crucial to disseminate this promising information to our patients and clients effectively. Here are a few strategies:


1. Educational Workshops: Consider running workshops or webinars explaining the latest findings and emphasizing the importance of regular physical activity, especially resistance training.

2. Personalized Exercise Plans: Develop personalized exercise plans for clients to help enhance the levels of irisin in their bodies, potentially offering protection against Alzheimer's.

3. Collaborative Efforts: If you are not qualified as an exercise professional, consider partnering with a practitioner who is – you’ll find professionals in your area on The CMA website.  You’ll be able to collaborate with physical therapists and other health professionals to develop multifaceted programs that integrate the benefits of exercise into the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer's.

4. Informative Blog Posts and Newsletters: Regularly update your blog or send out newsletters to share insights from the latest research, thereby encouraging clients to integrate exercise into their daily routine. Regular reminders can work wonders with clients – it helps keep them on track – and it is a wonderful way of letting potential clients know about your work – and your commitment to professional excellence – as you are demonstrably up to date with the latest findings in research.

5. Community Engagement: Engage with the community to promote awareness about the protective effects of exercise against Alzheimer's and encourage group activities that foster physical health.


In closing

While the research is still in nascent stages, the promising role of irisin offers a new horizon in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. As echoed by many complementary and natural healthcare professionals, "exercise is medicine", and this study further solidifies the claim, encouraging the incorporation of regular physical activity in our lifestyle as a potential shield against Alzheimer's.

Let’s take this opportunity to inspire and assist our clients in adopting a healthier lifestyle, potentially safeguarding them against the horrors of Alzheimer’s disease. Together, we can make strides towards a healthier, happier future.



Further areas to explore – in this section we want to point you in the direction of related studies and some of the key researchers in the field of Alzheimer’s Disease, other dementias – and the ways in which exercise and lifestyle can help to prevent the progression of these illnesses – potentially even preventing them.  We find that the best repository for the latest research articles is usually PubMed. 

The CMA recommends PubMed to our Members as it is a free search and retrieval service that provides access to the Medline database of references and abstracts on life sciences and biomedical topics. It is maintained by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) at the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), which is located at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It's a vital resource for medical professionals, researchers, and students, providing information on a wide array of topics including medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, healthcare systems, and preclinical sciences. It is an incredibly useful tool for us all, in complementary medicine, which can help us stay right up-to-date with the latest developments in the complementary and conventional medicine fields.  The PubMed database contains millions of citations, and new references are added regularly. Users can access a vast number of scientific articles, often with links to full-text articles, either freely available or through institutional subscriptions. It also provides various tools and features that help users to organize and analyse the retrieved information effectively – also providing a neat “citation” tool that correctly parses references in line with institutional requirements – such as Harvard Style, APA6 - and so on.


Suggested avenues for further reading:

1. BDNF and Exercise: Studies exploring the role of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) in brain health and how its levels are influenced by physical activity. This topic has been widely researched.

2. Exercise and Cognitive Function: You can look for studies that explore the broader relationship between different forms of exercise (aerobic, resistance training, etc.) and cognitive function, especially in older adults.

3. The Role of Neprilysin: Since the study above explores the role of neprilysin in reducing amyloid-beta levels, you might like to look at further studies that focus on this enzyme and its role in brain health.

4. Irisin and Metabolic Health: Before being linked to Alzheimer's, irisin was mainly studied in the context of metabolic health. We suggest looking at the many studies which explore its role in glucose and lipid metabolism.

5. Alzheimer’s Disease - Modifiable Risk Factors: There have been several studies focusing on modifiable risk factors for Alzheimer's, including physical activity, diet, and other lifestyle factors. This is a key research area that is constantly developing – do take a look at the latest research here too.

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