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Signals from Muscle Protect from Dementia

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How do different parts of the body communicate? Scientists at St Jude are studying how signals sent from skeletal muscle affect the brain.

The team studied fruit flies and cutting-edge brain cell models called organoids. They focused on the signals muscles send when stressed. The researchers found that stress signals rely on an enzyme called Amyrel amylase and its product, the disaccharide maltose.

The scientists showed that mimicking the stress signals can protect the brain and retina from ageing. The signals work by preventing the buildup of misfolded protein aggregates. Findings suggest that tailoring this signalling may potentially help combat neurodegenerative conditions like age-related dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

‘We found that a stress response induced in muscle could impact not only the muscle but also promote protein quality control in distant tissues like the brain and retina,’ said Fabio Demontis, PhD, of St Jude Developmental Neurobiology. ‘This stress response was actually protecting those tissues during ageing.’

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