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Keywords:

  • running wheel activity;
  • cerebrovascular system;
  • angiogenesis;
  • neurogenesis;
  • neuronal plasticity

Abstract

Increased levels of angiogenesis and neurogenesis possibly mediate the beneficial effects of physical activity on hippocampal plasticity. This study was designed to investigate the temporal dynamics of exercise-induced changes in hippocampal angiogenesis and cell proliferation. Mice were housed with a running wheel for 1, 3, or 10 days. Analysis of glucose transporter Glut1-positive vessel density showed a significant increase after 3 days of wheel running. Cell proliferation in the dentate gyrus showed a trend towards an increase after 3 days of running and was significantly elevated after 10 days of physical exercise. Ten days of wheel running resulted in a near-significant increase in the number of immature neurons, as determined by a doublecortin (DCX) staining. In the second part of the study, the persistence of the exercise-induced changes in angiogenesis and cell proliferation was determined. The running wheel was removed from the cage after 10 days of physical activity. Glut-1 positive vessel density and hippocampal cell proliferation were determined 1 and 6 days after removal of the wheel. Both parameters had returned to baseline 24 h after cessation of physical activity. The near-significant increase in the number of DCX-positive immature neurons persisted for at least 6 days, indicating that new neurons formed during the period of increased physical activity had survived. Together these experiments show that the hippocampus displays a remarkable angiogenic and neurogenic plasticity and rapidly responds to changes in physical activity. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.