Using exercise to reduce glutamate build-up in the brain

May 17, 2016
brain

In a new study published today in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, scientists from the University of Guelph have found that exercise has the potential to decrease toxic build-up in the brain, reducing the severity of brain disorders such as Huntington's disease.

Glutamate, an amino acid that is one of the twenty amino acids used to construct proteins, is used by the brain to transmit signals, but too much glutamate blocks future signals and can lead to toxicity in the brain. Since the majority of the brain relies on glutamate as the main neurotransmitter for communication between neural cells, it is essential that glutamate is reabsorbed and disposed of to prevent blockage. While glutamate reuptake is a normal process for healthy brains, several diseases such as Huntington's disease, ALS, and epilepsy result in either failed reuptake of glutamate or high levels of glutamate in the brain. This can lead to unwanted and in some cases excessive stimulation of neighbouring cells which can worsen the disease.

The findings of this study show that has the potential to increase the use of glutamate in the brain and may help reduce the toxicity caused by glutamate build-up in these diseases. "As we all know, exercise is healthy for the rest of the body and our study suggests that exercise may present an excellent option for reducing the severity of " says Dr. Eric Herbst, lead author of the study. "Taking into account that there are no cures for where glutamate is implicated, this study offers another example of the benefits of exercise for our brains" continued Dr. Herbst. "In short, these findings offer another reason to exercise with the aim of either preventing or slowing the neurodegeneration caused by these disorders".

The findings of this study are of particular importance to other researchers exploring different approaches to treating brain disorders. The main approaches to treating neurodegenerative diseases are hindered by the need to produce drugs that both have the intended effect for treating the disease and are also able to pass the . Through the use of exercise, the brain can direct glutamate to be used as an energy source to dispose of excess amounts of the neurotransmitter, without relying on the difficult development of pharmaceuticals. Identifying and targeting the mechanisms that increase glutamate metabolism in the brain may also provide the medical field with additional ways of treating problems within the . How the findings of this study translates to people affected by neurodegenerative diseases still needs exploring and is an important next step.

The paper, "Exercise increases mitochondrial oxidation in the mouse cerebral cortex" by Eric Herbst and Graham Holloway was published today in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism.

Explore further: Glutamate, an essential food for the brain

More information: Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/abs/10.1139/apnm-2016-0033

Related Stories

Glutamate, an essential food for the brain

October 1, 2015

Glutamate is an amino acid with very different functions: in the pancreas, it modulates the activity of the pancreatic ß-cells responsible for insulin production, whereas in the brain it is the main excitatory neurotransmitter. ...

Recommended for you

Neurons can learn temporal patterns

May 29, 2017

Individual neurons can learn not only single responses to a particular signal, but also a series of reactions at precisely timed intervals. This is what emerges from a study at Lund University in Sweden.

People match confidence levels to make decisions in groups

May 26, 2017

When trying to make a decision with another person, people tend to match their confidence levels, which can backfire if one person has more expertise than the other, finds a new study led by UCL and University of Oxford researchers.

Optic probes shed light on binge-eating

May 26, 2017

Activating neurons in an area of the brain not previously associated with feeding can produce binge-eating behavior in mice, a new Yale study finds.

Study finds gray matter density increases during adolescence

May 26, 2017

For years, the common narrative in human developmental neuroimaging has been that gray matter in the brain - the tissue found in regions of the brain responsible for muscle control, sensory perception such as seeing and hearing, ...

Game study not playing around with PTSD relief

May 26, 2017

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) patients wrestling with one of its main symptoms may find long-term relief beyond medication thanks to the work of a Western researcher.

Fathers' brains respond differently to daughters than sons

May 25, 2017

Fathers with toddler daughters are more attentive and responsive to those daughters' needs than fathers with toddler sons are to the needs of those sons, according to brain scans and recordings of the parents' daily interactions ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.