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Ann Anat. 2011 Jul;193(4):354-61. doi: 10.1016/j.aanat.2011.02.013. Epub 2011 Mar 12.

Enhancing recovery from peripheral nerve injury using treadmill training.

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Department of Cell Biology, Emory University School of Medicine, 615 Michael Street, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.


Full functional recovery after traumatic peripheral nerve injury is rare. We postulate three reasons for the poor functional outcome measures observed. Axon regeneration is slow and not all axons participate. Significant misdirection of regenerating axons to reinnervate inappropriate targets occurs. Seemingly permanent changes in neural circuitry in the central nervous system are found to accompany axotomy of peripheral axons. Exercise in the form of modest daily treadmill training impacts all three of these areas. Compared to untrained controls, regenerating axons elongate considerably farther in treadmill trained animals and do so via an autocrine/paracrine neurotrophin signaling pathway. This enhancement of axon regeneration takes place without an increase in the amount of misdirection of regenerating axons found without training. The enhancement also occurs in a sex-dependent manner. Slow continuous training is effective only in males, while more intense interval training is effective only in females. In treadmill trained, but not untrained mice the extent of coverage of axotomized motoneurons is maintained, thus preserving important elements of the spinal circuitry.

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