Tai Chi May Help Ward Off Knee Pain in Seniors

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Two hours per week can improve osteoarthritis symptoms in older patients, study finds
-- Randy Dotinga

THURSDAY, Oct. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Want to improve that osteoarthritis in your knee? New research suggests that regular Tai Chi exercise can reduce pain and help your knee function better.
"Tai Chi is a mind-body approach that appears to be an applicable treatment for older adults with knee osteoarthritis," Dr. Chenchen Wang, co-author of a study published in the November issue of Arthritis Care & Research, said in a news release from the journal's publisher. In the United States, an estimated 4.3 million adults over 60 suffer from this form of arthritis. As many as half of American adults may develop symptoms by age 85, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported recently.
Wang and colleagues from Tufts University School of Medicine recruited 40 patients, with an average age of 65, who had been diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis. Half of the group took part in Yang-style Tai Chi sessions for an hour at a time, twice weekly over a period of three months. The Tai Chi session consisted of 10-minutes of self-message and review, a half hour of movement, 10 minutes of breathing exercises and 10 minutes of relaxing.
The other participants took two 60-minute classes per week for three months and learned about issues such as diet and nutrition, and treatments for osteoarthritis. They also stretched for 20 minutes.
Those who practiced Tai Chi had significantly less knee pain than the other group and also reported less depression, more physical function and better overall health.
"Our observations emphasize a need to further evaluate the biologic mechanisms and approaches of Tai Chi to extend its benefits to a broader population," Wang said.

More information
Learn more about osteoarthritis from the Arthritis Foundation.
SOURCE: Arthritis Care & Research, news release, Oct. 29, 2009
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Cholesterol Necessary for Brain Development

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[PRESS RELEASE 2 October 2009] A derivative of cholesterol is necessary for the formation of brain cells, according to a study from the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet. The results, which are published in the journal Cell Stem Cell, can help scientists to cultivate dopamine-producing cells outside the body.
The study was led by Professor Ernest Arenas and demonstrates that the formation of dopamine-producing neurons during brain development in mice is dependent on the activation of a specific receptor in the brain by an oxidised form of cholesterol called oxysterol. Dopamine-producing nerve cells play an important part in many brain functions and processes, from motor skills to reward systems and dependency. They are also the type of cell that dies in Parkinson's disease.
The scientists have also shown that embryonic stem cells cultivated in the laboratory, form more dopamine-producing nerve cells if they are treated with oxidised cholesterol. The same treatment also reduced the tendency of the stem cells to show uncontrolled growth.
"Oxysterol contributes to a safer and better cultivation of dopamine-producing cells, which is a great advancement since it increases the possibility of developing new treatments for Parkinsons disease," says Professor Arenas.
It is hoped that one day it will be possible to replace dead cells in the brains of Parkinson's patients with transplanted cultivated dopamine-producing cells. Such cells can also be used to test new Parkinson's drugs.

Paola Sacchetti, Kyle M. Sousa, Anita C. Hall, Isabel Liste, Knut R. Steffensen, Spyridon Theofilopoulos, Clare L. Parish, Carin Hazenberg, Lars Ährlund Richter, Outi Hovatta, Jan-Åke Gustafsson & Ernest Arenas
Liver X Receptors and oxysterols promote ventral midbrain neurogenesis in vivo and in human embryonic stem cells.
Cell Stem Cell, 2 October 2009.