This was studied by Casaletto and others and published by the Alzheimer’s Association on 7th January 2022. 

Physical activity is widely recommended for age-related brain health, but its neurobiology is not well understood.  

Animal models indicate physical activity is synaptogenic.  

This study examined the relationship between physical activity and synaptic integrity markers in older adults. 

404 decedents from the Rush Memory and Aging Project completed annual actigraphy monitoring and post mortem evaluation.  

Brain tissue was analysed for pre-synaptic proteins and neuropathology.  

Models examined relationships between late life physical activity averaged across visits and timing specific physical activity, time to autopsy with synaptic proteins.  

The results showed that a greater late life physical activity was associated with higher pre-synaptic protein levels.  

The relationships were independent of pathology but timing specific; Participants who completed actigraphy within two years of brain tissue measurements showed larger physical activity synaptic protein associations.  

The relationships between physical activity and pre-synaptic proteins were comparable across brain regions sampled.  

Physical activity was associated with synaptic integrity in a regionally global, but time linked nature in older adults. 

Exercise training is associated with grey matter growth in humans and a synapse is a structural component of grey matter, supporting further studies of these relationships. 

The authors hypothesised that late life physical activity would relate to a higher abundance of pre-synaptic proteins in human brain tissue.

Dr Paul Ettlinger

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