A study carried out by UB, IDIBELL , ICO and Bellvitge University Hospital shows that exercise does not only prevent the loss of neuronal tissue caused by chemotherapy and radiotherapy, but the patients who follow sports guidelines also increase their volume of grey matter in brain regions involved in memory and learning functions, such as the hippocampus. The study, published in the European Journal of Neurology, indicates the neuronal plasticity in the hippocampus as the main mechanism to explain the brain and cognitive benefits of the exercise in patients with lung cancer.
The first author of the study is Lucía Vaquero, member of the Cognition and Brain Plasticity Group at IDIBELL and the University of Barcelona. This study, which received funding from La Marató de TV3 Foundation, has been carried out thanks to the collaboration of different groups of the Bellvitge campus: the Neuro-Oncology research group at IDIBELL, ICO, and the Bellvitge Hospital Foundation, the Cognition and Brain Plasticity group at IDIBELL, the Faculty of Psychology, and the Institute of Neurosciences of the UB and the Physiotherapy Unit of ICO.
"The results of the new study show that the beneficial effects of exercise are focused on the hippocampus, a brain region highly involved in memory and learning functions. Therefore, we think that exercise would boost neuronal plasticity, reducing the loss of neuronal tissue and improving the cognitive functions of patients undergoing a treatment", notes Marta Simó, principal researcher of the Neuro-oncology research group of IDIBELL-HUB-ICO, and leader of the project.