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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2011 Sep;301(3):H1025-32. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.01276.2010. Epub 2011 May 27.

Aerobic exercise reverses arterial inflammation with aging in mice.

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Department of Integrative Physiology, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, Colorado, USA.


We tested the hypothesis that regular aerobic exercise reverses arterial inflammation with aging. When compared with young controls (6.2 ± 0.4 mo; n = 7), old (31.3 ± 0.5 mo; n = 11) male B6D2F1 cage-restricted mice demonstrated increased arterial activation of the proinflammatory transcription factor NF-κB, as indicated by greater aortic phosphorylation of both the inhibitor of NF-κB kinase (IKK) and the p65 subunit of NF-κB (both P < 0.05). Similarly, aortic expression of the proinflammatory cytokines IL-1 and IL-6, IFN-γ, and TNF-α were greater in the old mice (all P < 0.05). Macrophage and T lymphocyte abundance was unchanged with age in the aortic intima and media but was markedly increased in the adventitia and perivascular fat tissue of old mice (all P < 0.05). This proinflammatory arterial phenotype with aging was associated with vascular dysfunction, as reflected by impaired nitric oxide-mediated endothelium-dependent dilation. Voluntary wheel running (10-14 wk) normalized aortic IKK-NF-κB activation, cytokine expression, adventitial and perivascular macrophage infiltration, and vascular function in old mice (32.4 ± 0.3 mo; n = 8) while having no consistent effects in young mice. Short-term voluntary wheel running started late in life reverses arterial inflammation with aging in mice possibly via outside-in actions. These anti-inflammatory effects may play an important role in the amelioration of age-associated vascular dysfunction by regular aerobic exercise.

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