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Int J Dev Neurosci. 2013 Oct;31(6):382-90. doi: 10.1016/j.ijdevneu.2012.11.002. Epub 2012 Nov 23.

Running-induced epigenetic and gene expression changes in the adolescent brain.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville, VA 22908, United States.


Physical exercise is associated with positive neural functioning. Here we examined the gene expression consequences of 1 week of voluntary wheel running in adolescent male mice. We assayed expression levels of genes associated with synaptic plasticity, signaling pathways, and epigenetic modifying enzymes. Two regions were examined: the hippocampus, which is typically examined in exercise studies, and the cerebellum, an area directly involved in motor control and learning. After 1 week of exercise, global acetylation of histone 3 was increased in both brain regions. Interestingly this was correlated with increased brain derived neural growth factor in the hippocampus, as noted in many other studies, but only a trend was found in cerebellum. Differences and similarities between the two areas were noted for genes encoding functional proteins. In contrast, the expression pattern of DNA methyltransferases (Dnmts) and histone deacetylases (Hdacs), genes that influence DNA methylation and histone modifications in general, decreased in both regions with exercise. We hypothesize that epigenetic mechanisms, involving many of the genes assessed here, are essential for the positive affects of exercise on behavior and suspect these data have relevance for adolescent boys.


Adolescent; BDNF; Cerebellum; Epigenetic; Exercise; Puberty

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