What does mobility depend on in old age?
The mobility of older, frail adults appears to depend on a variation in a gene that regulates dopamine levels in the brain. This knowledge could lead to the development of pharmacological preparations that maintain mobility in the elderly.
According to the results of the new study with the participation of researchers from the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh, a gene variant that influences dopamine levels appears to have a significant influence on mobility in the elderly. The study was published in the English-language journal “Journal of The American Geriatrics Society”.
Influence of dopamine levels on exercise
The researchers wanted to know if a genetic predisposition to produce more or less dopamine is linked to the mobility of people who have a certain degree of frailty but who do not suffer from dementia, Parkinson’s or any other neurological disease.
The role of the COMT gene has been examined
Various genetic factors influence the transmission of the dopaminergic signal. In their study, however, the researchers focused on a gene called COMT, which breaks down dopamine in order to control its levels in the brain.
They also analyzed the participants’ state of fragility, which is characterized by a decline in physiological functions, poor adaptation to stressors and susceptibility to health problems. The researchers suspected that fragile participants might be particularly sensitive to differences in dopamine levels caused by COMT.
Who were screened?
Therefore, the team looked at this gene in more than 500 adult people over the age of 65, excluding anyone taking dopamine-related drugs or diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. The researchers then looked for possible links between genotype, frailty and walking speed.
What protects against mobility disabilities?
In older, frail adults, those with a high dopamine genotype were more likely to maintain a faster gait. They also seemed more resistant to mobility impairments with age.
The researchers found that frail participants with a high dopamine COMT genotype had a ten percent higher walking speed than participants with a low dopamine COMT genotype.
Does ten percent make a difference?
That ten percent difference may seem small, but it can make a big difference for a frail person trying to cross a busy road, the experts say in a press release.
Will suitable drugs be developed in the future?
The team also tried to find out what dopamine levels might make older people more resistant to walking and reduced mobility. So I hope that one day older adults with low dopamine levels could be helped with pharmacological dopamine preparations in order to maintain their mobility.
Will a new study help improve mobility problems for many older people? (Image: Lothar Drechsel / Stock.Adobe.com)
There are many people with lower-than-normal dopamine levels who do not have Parkinson’s or psychiatric illnesses, experts say. The question for future studies is whether affected individuals become more resilient when given dopamine.
This is how the elderly can maintain their mobility
In the meantime, steps should be taken to help the elderly keep moving. Researchers recommend focusing on fun physical activities involving both the body and the brain.
Protective effect of multisensory activities
Appropriate physical activities are in particular so-called multi-sensory activities such as dancing or walking with a loved one. According to the researchers, walking grandparents with their grandchildren in their hands is an amazing multisensory rehabilitation, as grandparents have to be careful of where they are going, where the child is going, keep an eye on their child. environment and hear what the grandchild is saying – and All at the same time. (as)
Author and source information
This text complies with the requirements of specialized medical literature, medical directives and ongoing studies and has been verified by healthcare professionals.
Shannon Mance, Andrea Rosso, Joshua Bis, Stephanie Studenski, Nico Bohnen et al .: Catechol – O – Methyltransferase Genotype, Frailty, and Gait Speed in a Biracial Cohort of Older Adults, in Journal of The American Geriatrics Society (published on October 12, 2020)), Journal of The American Geriatrics Society University of Pittsburgh: Improved Mobility in Frail and Elderly Adults Linked to Common Genetic Variant (published August 12, 2020), University of Pittsburgh
This article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. It cannot replace a visit to the doctor.