Can Exercise Protect People Whose Plasma Tau Is Up?

From the Alz Forum

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Staying active has many health benefits, including, perhaps, to help preserve memory. Alas, is this true in some more than others? Scientists led by Kumar Rajan at Rush University, Chicago, suggest as much in the August 11 JAMA Network Open. They report that among old people whose plasma total tau levels are high, cognition slipped half as much in exercisers as in sedentary folks. Exercisers whose plasma tau was low benefitted less, seeing at best a 27 percent slower decline. Measuring blood biomarkers could flag those who stand to benefit most from early intervention, the authors conclude.

  • Cognition declined most quickly in older people whose plasma tau is high.
  • The most active of them saw less decline.
  • Highly active people with low tau declined most slowly.

“The big picture is that modifiable lifestyle factors help even people at high risk,” Kristine Yaffe, University of California, San Francisco, told Alzforum.

Researchers ask new questions about biomarkers by digging out blood samples from completed studies and analyzing them using recently developed assays, such as those for plasma total tau. In this way, first author Pankaja Desai correlated total plasma tau, lifestyle history, and cognitive test scores collected during the Chicago Health and Aging Project. From 1993 to 2011, CHAP followed 10,800 cognitively normal people over 65. Every three years, researchers checked in with participants, and recruited new people who met the age requirement. At in-home visits, participants completed surveys that assessed their global cognition, episodic memory, and how fast their visual perception was. About 5,700 volunteers also provided a blood sample at each visit; of these, 3,000 were tested for tau.

Read the full article on the Alz Forum Website –

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