Mice 'Stimulate' Their Way to Delaying Huntington's Disease
WebMD News Archive
Although this is the very first time that scientists have been able to delay
disease onset, van Dellen tells WebMD that it's far too early to tell
Huntington's disease patients with any certainty that a particular activity or
lifestyle will keep symptoms at bay. Environmental enrichment is quite complex,
he says, and any number of potentially important factors could be at work.
"Enriched-environment mice were continually exposed to new sensory
stimuli," van Dellen tells WebMD. "They exercised more. They used
fine-motor skills." Much harder to quantify, but also worth investigating,
is what he calls "the enjoyment factor." Perhaps the benefit came not
from any one factor, but rather from the "pleasure" or stress-relief of
the overall environment. "You're in a less stressful environment if you're
running on a wheel than if you're sitting all day in the corner of a box,"
Even though this finding is only the beginning of extensive future work, van
Dellen tells WebMD that there is most definitely cause for optimism. "I
think the fact that there's been such a clear link shown between environment
and disease onset shows that we're not just products of our genetic makeup, but
also of how we interact with our environment. We can steer our own fate by the
environment we choose."
- Scientists have been able to delay the onset of Huntington's disease in
mice by providing them with a stimulating environment.
- With Huntington's disease, certain areas of the brain degenerate, but these
stimulated mice showed less degeneration than other mice with the disease.
- Researchers do not yet know how the findings will translate to humans,
partly because an enriched environment is difficult to quantify, as it
encourages more exercise, more fine-motor skills, more enjoyment, and less