Exercise benefits well beyond cardiovascular
A recent study has demonstrated that exercise has benefits well beyond cardiovascular health and revealed that platelets, which are believed to be just small blood cells crucial for clotting, play a pivotal role in overall health. Physical activity has long been associated with better brain health, particularly in delaying the effects of aging. Exerkines, substances released into the bloodstream during exercise, are thought to be key players during this beneficial process. However, the source and role of these exerkines have remained elusive.
This study was conducted on both young and old mice and identified platelet factor 4 (PF4) as an anti-aging exerkine that enhances neurogenesis and cognition in aging brains, revealing a unique platelet activation response to exercise that differs from other known platelet activities. When mice exercised, their platelets were activated and secreted PF4, which contributed to increased hippocampal precursor cell growth, a brain region vital for memory and learning. Increasing the levels of PF4 appeared to reverse age-related cognitive decline and limitations in brain cell regeneration, specifically through hippocampal neurogenesis.
While exercise and platelet activation have shown cardiovascular benefits, it is essential to note that chronic platelet activation is linked to neurodegenerative diseases and cardiovascular issues. Interestingly, long-term endurance exercise seems to modulate platelet reactivity, reducing its tendency to adhere and aggregate, thereby offering a protective effect against cardiovascular diseases. These findings underscore the potential for new therapeutic approaches focused on exerkines released during exercise, opening avenues for combating brain aging and related conditions.