Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Cardioprotection afforded by exercise training prior to myocardial infarction is associated with autonomic function improvement

Fernando Rodrigues1, Daniele Jardim Feriani1, Catarina Andrade Barboza1, Marcos Elias Vergilino Abssamra1, Leandro Yanase Rocha1, Nicolle Martins Carrozi1, Cristiano Mostarda2, Diego Figueroa3, Gabriel Inacio Honorato Souza1, Kátia De Angelis4, Maria Cláudia Irigoyen3 and Bruno Rodrigues1*

Author Affiliations

1 Human Movement Laboratory, Sao Judas Tadeu University (USJT), São Paulo, SP, Brazil

2 Federal University of Maranhao (UFMA), São Luis, MA, Brazil

3 Hypertension Unit, Heart Institute (InCor), Medical School of University of Sao Paulo, São Paulo, SP, Brazil

4 Translational Physiology Laboratory, Universidade Nove de Julho (UNINOVE), São Paulo, SP, Brazil

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BMC Cardiovascular Disorders 2014, 14:84  doi:10.1186/1471-2261-14-84

Published: 14 July 2014



It has been suggested that exercise training (ET) protects against the pathological remodeling and ventricular dysfunction induced by myocardial infarction (MI). However, it remains unclear whether the positive adjustments on baroreflex and cardiac autonomic modulations promoted by ET may afford a cardioprotective mechanism. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of aerobic ET, prior to MI, on cardiac remodeling and function, as well as on baroreflex sensitivity and autonomic modulation in rats.


Male Wistar rats were divided into 4 groups: sedentary rats submitted to Sham surgery (C); trained rats submitted to Sham surgery (TC); sedentary rats submitted to MI (I), trained rats submitted to MI (TI). Sham and MI were performed after ET period. After surgeries, echocardiographic, hemodynamic and autonomic (baroreflex sensitivity, cardiovascular autonomic modulation) evaluations were conducted.


Prior ET prevented an additional decline in exercise capacity in TI group in comparison with I. MI area was not modified by previous ET. ET was able to increase the survival and prevent additional left ventricle dysfunction in TI rats. Although changes in hemodynamic evaluations were not observed, ET prevented the decrease of baroreflex sensitivity, and autonomic dysfunction in TI animals when compared with I animals. Importantly, cardiac improvement was associated with the prevention of cardiac autonomic impairment in studied groups.


Prior ET was effective in changing aerobic capacity, left ventricular morphology and function in rats undergoing MI. Furthermore, these cardioprotective effects were associated with attenuated cardiac autonomic dysfunction observed in trained rats. Although these cause-effect relationships can only be inferred, rather than confirmed, our study suggests that positive adaptations of autonomic function by ET can play a vital role in preventing changes associated with cardiovascular disease, particularly in relation to MI.

Exercise training; Myocardial infarction; Cardiac function; Autonomic nervous system