Regular Physical Exercise Modulates Iron Metabolism in Both the Brain and the Muscles

Written by Sarah Cownley
Published on

Regular Physical Exercise Modula...

Many studies have shown the impact that physical exercise can have on Alzheimer’s disease. But, new experimental research is digging deeper to understand how the relationship may be due to how physical exercise modulates iron metabolism in the muscles and brain.

Iron accumulation and brain iron metabolism have previously been associated with aging and Alzheimer’s disease. However, the underlying mechanisms are unclear. It’s known that inflammation and iron help to regulate the synthesis of hepcidin, the main iron regulatory protein.

Research shows that the inflammation-modulating cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6) can balance brain-muscle crosstalk and is involved in the activation of hepcidin in the brain.

The Role on Iron Homeostasis

Regular physical exercise is known to have a beneficial effect on iron metabolism and anti-inflammatory action. However, the role of regular exercise on iron homeostasis in the brain of patients with Alzheimer’s disease remains unclear. This set researchers on a quest to find more information on the relationship.

The study was published in a special edition of the International Journal of Molecular titled “Redox-Active Metals in Neurodegenerative Diseases: Therapeutic Implications.” For the study, researchers used wild-type mice and 5xFAD transgenic mice modeling to analyze the effect of regular physical exercise on the modulation of iron homeostasis.

During the six-month experiment, half the mice had access to a running wheel. The levels of iron and iron-related proteins were examined in the skeletal muscle and brain of all the mice. Researchers also included an investigation into the potential of crosstalk between the brain and periphery with regular exercise.

Researchers concluded that regular exercise modulates iron trafficking and storage in both the skeletal muscle and brain. It was also found that regular physical activity could induce a reduction of cortical hepcidin. It is suggested that IL-6 is the key cytokine that changes hepcidin in the brain iron modulation for those who exercise regularly.

The study helps to illustrate the benefits of physical exercise in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. There is mounting evidence to show that patients with Alzheimer’s disease who are more active feel better.

Exercise can help to keep muscles, joints, and the heart in good shape. It can also help patients maintain a healthy weight and have good sleep habits.

The information now known about the relationship between Alzheimer’s disease and regular exercise may provide new disease treatment and prevention approaches.


On any matter relating to your health or well-being, please check with an appropriate health professional. No statement herein is to be construed as a diagnosis, treatment, preventative, or cure for any disease, disorder or abnormal physical state. The statements herein have not been evaluated by the Foods and Drugs Administration or Health Canada. Dr. Marchione and the doctors on the Bel Marra Health Editorial Team are compensated by Bel Marra Health for their work in creating content, consulting along with formulating and endorsing products.