The relationship between the 'use it or lose it' theory and the mechanisms underpinning Alzheimer's disease.
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In light of recent research, which has demonstrated a significant energy deficiency in the brains of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), it has been proposed that stimulation of the brain will slow down brain aging and thus diminish the risk for Alzheimer’s disease, a principle known as the ‘use it or lose it’ theory. This notion, however, might seem to contradict the long-withstanding amyloid cascade hypothesis, which proposes that amyloid-β peptide plaques, found in individuals with AD, are the culprit of Alzheimer’s disease. However, this review demonstrates that the energy deficiency experienced in AD due to age-related mitochondrial dysfunction can actually be linked to the amyloid cascade hypothesis in a rather intricate way. This review also discusses the cognitive and physiological benefits of physical exercise and an engaging lifestyle – two practical approaches of the ‘use it or lose it’ theory – and describes how key elements of the research discussed prior are involved in these benefits.