News Brief by by Kanika Kamal
Have you ever been at home, feeling lazy and debating whether or not you should make that journey all the way to the gym? Well, ground-breaking results found at EPFL might have just given you your incentive. Intense exercise leads to the creation of more lactate, which has been found to protect against neuronal damage from trauma such as spinal cord injuries or stroke. During traumatic incidents, NMDA receptors become overactive and overwhelm the neurons with signals. This causes excitotoxicity a.k.a neuron damage or death from being hyperactive. Excitotoxicity is implicated in many diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and schizophrenia, but lactate production can counter this. When you exercise, lactate, a waste product of aerobic cellular respiration, builds up and can be converted into pyruvate and then ATP. The ATP is able to bind and activate another type of receptor in the neuron that leads to a cascade of defense mechanisms. From a technical standpoint, when there is excessive neuronal excitation, you have too much Ca2+ ions entering the neuron. When ATP binds, it triggers the opening of K+ channels, causing the neuron to hyperpolarize, decrease its excitability, and thus protect against damage or death. Scientists found that when they hyperexcited mouse neurons with an excitatory neurotransmitter called glutamate, 65% of mouse neurons were killed. Yet, with lactate present, that number fell to 32%. This research could be applied to create drugs that can improve the conditions of people with irreparable traumatic neuronal damage. So, maybe it is worth it to lace up those tennis shoes and make that trek to the gym every once in awhile, for the sake of your neurons.
Jourdain, Pascal. "How a Waste Product of Exercise Protects Neurons from Trauma Damage."
ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 Feb. 2016. Web.