Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a degenerative disease of the central nervous system (CNS) characterized by demyelination of nerve fibers and variable degrees of axonal loss. The damage to the CNS eventually leads to disruptions in sensory, motor, and cognitive function. A key factor in the pathogenesis of MS is neurodegeneration, specifically loss of neurons in the thalamus.
Thalamic atrophy is one of the most common MRI findings in people with MS and is a strong predictor of disability progression. Several studies have shown that aerobic exercise training can improve neurological function in patients with MS, and now there is evidence that aerobic exercise may be especially effective at reversing thalamic atrophy.
In a recent study, people with relapsing-remitting MS who underwent six months of aerobic exercise training showed significant increases in thalamic volume compared to those who did not exercise. The increase in thalamic volume was associated with improvements in cognitive function, specifically information processing speed.
This is exciting news for people with MS, as thalamic atrophy is a major contributor to the disability associated with the disease. Aerobic exercise training may provide a way to halt or even reverse the progression of thalamic atrophy, and in doing so, help to preserve cognitive function and quality of life.
Aerobic exercise training improves cardiorespiratory fitness and reduces fatigue and may have beneficial effects on thalamic volumes in individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a study published in JAMA Neurology.
Thalamic atrophy is common in individuals with MS and is associated with disability and cognitive decline. Given the high prevalence of MS and the lack of effective treatments for thalamic atrophy, identification of interventions that may prevent or slow thalamic atrophy is important.
Aerobic exercise is a promising intervention for restoring function in individuals with MS-related thalamic atrophy. The findings from this study suggest that aerobic exercise training may be an effective intervention for preserving thalamic volumes and reducing disability in individuals with MS.