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Pflugers Arch. 2013 Feb;465(2):197-208. doi: 10.1007/s00424-012-1206-8. Epub 2013 Jan 6.

Postnatal exposure to voluntary exercise but not the antioxidant catechin protects the vasculature after a switch to an atherogenic environment in middle-age mice.

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Department of Pharmacology, Université de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


We aimed to evaluate the lasting functional imprinting of exercise (EX) and catechin (CAT) on the vascular function of middle-age mice switched to a proatherogenic environment. C57BL/6J mice (n = 10-15 in each group) fed a regular diet (RD) were exposed from the age of 1 to 9 months either to EX (voluntary running; 2.7 ± 0.2 km/day), to the polyphenol CAT (30 mg/kg/day in drinking water), or to physical inactivity (PI). At 9 months of age, EX and CAT were stopped and mice either remained on the RD or were fed a Western diet (WD) for an additional 3 months. At 12 months of age, mice from all groups fed a WD had similar body mass, systolic blood pressure, and plasma total cholesterol, glucose, insulin, and isoprostane. Compared to the RD, the WD induced an indomethacin-sensitive aortic endothelium-dependent and independent dysfunction in PI mice (p < 0.05) that was prevented by both EX and CAT; this benefit was associated with a higher (p < 0.05) non-nitric oxide/non-prostacyclin endothelium-dependent relaxation. While EX, but not PI or CAT, prevented vascular dysfunction induced by the WD in cerebral arteries, it had no effect in femoral arteries. The profiles of activity of antioxidant enzymes and of proinflammatory gene expression in the aorta suggest a better adaptation of EX > CAT > PI mice to stress. In conclusion, our data suggest that a postnatal exposure to EX, but not to CAT, imprints an adaptive defense capacity in the vasculature against a deleterious change in lifestyle.

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