The role of physical exercise as a neuroprotective agent against ischemic injury has been extensively discussed. Nevertheless, the mechanisms underlying the effects of physical exercise on cerebral ischemia remain poorly understood. Here, we investigate the hypothesis that physical exercise increases ischemic tolerance by decreasing the induction of cellular apoptosis and glutamate release. Rats (n = 50) were submitted to a swimming exercise protocol for 8 weeks. Hippocampal slices were then submitted to oxygen and glucose deprivation. Cellular viability, pro-apoptotic markers (Caspase 8, Caspase 9, Caspase 3, and apoptosis-inducing factor), and glutamate release were analyzed. The percentage of cell death, the amount of glutamate release, and the expression of the apoptotic markers were all decreased in the exercise group when compared to the sedentary group after oxygen and glucose deprivation. Our results suggest that physical exercise protects hippocampal slices from the effects of oxygen and glucose deprivation, probably by a mechanism involving both the decrease of glutamatergic excitotoxicity and apoptosis induction.
Exercise reduces excitotoxicity and apoptosis. The mechanisms underlying neuroprotective effects of regular exercise are still not fully understood. Here, we showed that swim training promotes neuroprotection decreasing pro-apoptotic markers as caspases 8, 9, 3, and apoptose-Inducing Factor (AIF) as well as glutamate release from hippocampal slices. Our data reinforce the idea that exercise affords a neuroprotective effect.