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J Magn Reson Imaging. 2013 Nov;38(5):1177-83. doi: 10.1002/jmri.24090. Epub 2013 Mar 22.

Life-long aerobic exercise preserved baseline cerebral blood flow but reduced vascular reactivity to CO2.

Author information

1
Advanced Imaging Research Center, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas, USA; Biomedical Engineering Graduate Program, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas / UT Arlington, Arlington, Texas, USA.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

To examine the potential benefits of life-long aerobic exercise on brain health, in particular cerebrovascular function.

MATERIALS AND METHODS:

Ten Masters athletes (MA) (seven males, three females; 74.5 ± 5.8 years) and 10 sedentary elderly individuals (SE) (eight males, two females; 75.4 ± 5.6 years) were recruited and baseline cerebral blood flow (CBF) and cerebral vascular reactivity (CVR) to CO2 were measured on a 3T MRI scanner. Nine sedentary young subjects were also recruited to serve as a control group to verify the age effect.

RESULTS:

When compared to the SE group, MA showed higher CBF in posterior cingulate cortex/precuneus, which are key regions of the default-mode-network and are known to be highly sensitive to age and dementia. CVR in the MA brains were paradoxically lower than that in SE. This effect was present throughout the brain. Within the MA group, individuals with higher VO2max had an even lower CVR, suggesting a dose-response relationship.

CONCLUSION:

Life-long aerobic exercise preserved blood supply in the brain's default-mode-network against age-related degradation. On the other hand, its impact on the cerebral vascular system seems to be characterized by a dampening of CO2 reactivity, possibly because of desensitization effects due to a higher lifetime exposure.

KEYWORDS:

BOLD MRI; CO2; arterial-spin-labeling; cerebral blood flow; cerebral vascular reactivity; masters athletes

PMID:
23526811
PMCID:
PMC3695025
DOI:
10.1002/jmri.24090
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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