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expert reaction to study looking at exercise in a mouse model of Parkinson’s disease

A new study, published in PLOS ONE, examines the neuroprotective effects of running wheel exercise in mice.


Prof. David Dexter, Deputy Director of Research at Parkinson’s UK, said:

“This study confirms what clinicians and people with Parkinson’s have long suspected – that exercise could be very beneficial, not just to general health, but in slowing the progression of the condition.

“What is particularly interesting is that this study also offers some explanation as to how exercise is actually helping – by boosting levels of the protective protein DJ-1.  This means that, if we could find what exactly triggers the increase in DJ-1, there may be a way to produce a treatment that could effectively slow the progression of the condition.

“Interestingly, this study doesn’t just suggest that there are physical benefits to be had, but that memory could also be improved by increasing levels of DJ-1 – something that has never been reported before.

“Although exciting, this is an early study using only a rodent model of Parkinson’s.  More research will need to be done to show if these perceived benefits can be replicated in people.”


Prof. John Hardy, Professor of Neuroscience, UCL, said:

“Exercise is good of course, and possibly particularly for patients with Parkinson’s disease who stiffen up as part of the disease.  This paper claims that this exercise may affect the underlying biology of the disease process, but it does not get close to proving that.  They use a very artificial model of disease in mice.  This research by no means proves that there is an effect on the underlying pathology of the disease.  It does, though, suggest that this deserves investigation in real world trials.”


* ‘Running wheel exercise reduces α-synuclein aggregation and improves motor and cognitive function in a transgenic mouse model of Parkinson’s disease’ by Wenbo Zhou et al. published in PLOS ONE on Friday 22 December 2017.


Declared interests

Prof. John Hardy: “No conflicts.”

None others received.

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