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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Physical exercise improves functional recovery through mitigation of autophagy, attenuation of apoptosis and enhancement of neurogenesis after MCAO in rats

Liying Zhang1, Xiquan Hu1*, Jing Luo1, Lili Li1, Xingyong Chen2, Ruxun Huang2 and Zhong Pei2

Author affiliations

1 Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, the Third Affiliated Hospital, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, 510630, China

2 Department of Neurology, the First Affiliated Hospital, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, 510080, China

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Citation and License

BMC Neuroscience 2013, 14:46  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-14-46

Published: 8 April 2013

Abstract

Background

Physical exercise improves functional recovery after stroke through a complex mechanism that is not fully understood. Transient focal cerebral ischemia induces autophagy, apoptosis and neurogenesis in the peri-infarct region. This study is aimed to examine the effects of physical exercise on autophagy, apoptosis and neurogenesis in the peri-infarct region in a rat model of transient middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO).

Results

We found that autophagosomes, as labeled by microtubule-associated protein 1A light chain 3-II (LC3-II), were evident in the peri-infarct region at 3 days after 90-minute MCAO. Moreover, 44.6% of LC3-positive cells were also stained with TUNEL. The number of LC3 positive cells was significantly lower in physical exercise group than in control group at 14 and 21 days after MCAO. Suppression of autophagosomes by physical exercise was positively associated with improvement of neurological function. In addition, physical exercise significantly decreased the number of TUNEL-positive cells and increased the numbers of Ki67-positive, a proliferative marker, and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) positive cells at 7, 14, and 21 days after MCAO.

Conclusions

The present results demonstrate that physical exercise enhances neurological function possibly by reduction of autophagosome accumulation, attenuation of apoptosis and enhancement of neurogenesis in the peri-infarct region after transient MCAO in rats.

Keywords:
Physical exercise; Autophagy; Apoptosis; IGF-1; Neurogenesis; MCAO