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AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2009 Nov;30(10):1857-63. doi: 10.3174/ajnr.A1695. Epub 2009 Jul 9.

The effect of exercise on the cerebral vasculature of healthy aged subjects as visualized by MR angiography.

Author information

1
Department of Surgery, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA. bullitt@med.unc.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE:

Prior studies suggest that aerobic exercise may reduce both the brain atrophy and the decline in fractional anisotropy observed with advancing age. It is reasonable to hypothesize that exercise-induced changes to the vasculature may underlie these anatomic differences. The purpose of this blinded study was to compare high-activity and low-activity healthy elderly volunteers for differences in the cerebrovasculature as calculated from vessels extracted from noninvasive MR angiograms (MRAs).

MATERIALS AND METHODS:

Fourteen healthy elderly subjects underwent MRA. Seven subjects reported a high level of aerobic activity (64 +/- 5 years of age; 5 men, 2 women) and 7, a low activity level (68 +/- 6 years of age; 5 women, 2 men). Following vessel segmentation from MRA by an individual blinded to subject activity level, quantitative measures of vessel number, radius, and tortuosity were calculated and histogram analysis of vessel number and radius was performed.

RESULTS:

Aerobically active subjects exhibited statistically significant reductions in vessel tortuosity and an increased number of small vessels compared with less active subjects.

CONCLUSIONS:

Aerobic activity in elderly subjects is associated with lower vessel tortuosity values and an increase in the number of small-caliber vessels. It is possible that an aerobic exercise program may contribute to healthy brain aging. MRA offers a noninvasive approach to visualizing the cerebral vasculature and may prove useful in future longitudinal investigations.

PMID:
19589885
DOI:
10.3174/ajnr.A1695
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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