London: Moms-to-be, here`s another reason to work out -- you will reduce the chances of your new baby developing neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer`s, later in life, says a new study.
In their study, researchers have shown that mice bred to develop a neurodegenerative disease roughly equivalent to Alzheimer`s disease showed fewer signs of the disease and greater brain plasticity later in life when their mothers exercised regularly than those whose mothers did not exercise.
"This research provides an experimental rationale for the effects of beneficial behavioural stimuli experienced by the pregnant mother affecting the disease status of an as yet-unborn child.
"Epigenetic alterations (alterations in gene and protein expression caused by mechanisms other than changes in the underlying DNA sequence) provide a most probable mechanism by which mothers could have transferred their own behavioural experience to their progeny," said Kathy Keyvani at University Hospital Essen in Essen, Germany, who led the study.
She added: "A better understanding of the underlying pathways may provide novel treatment and/or prevention strategies for Alzheimer`s disease and bring more insight into the fascinating link between brain and behaviour."
For their study, Keyvani and colleagues mated male mice that express a mutant form of the APP gene found in some Alzheimer`s patients with healthy female wild-type mice.
After weaning, healthy and "Alzheimer-diseased" offspring were kept in standard cages for five months. Mouse brains were examined for signs of disease shortly thereafter.
The "Alzheimer-diseased" mice whose mothers ran on a exercise wheel during pregnancy had fewer Beta-amyloid plaques, smaller plaque size, less inflammation, less oxidative stress, and a better functioning vascular network than those whose mothers did not run.
Moreover, the mice whose mothers ran on the wheel also showed an up-regulation of plasticity-related molecules, which are indicators for more and better connections between the nerve cells.
The study has been published in `The FASEB Journal`.