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J Exerc Rehabil. 2017 Apr 30;13(2):130-135. doi: 10.12965/jer.1734968.484. eCollection 2017 Apr.

Treadmill exercise ameliorates depressive symptoms through increasing serotonin expression in postpartum depression rats.

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Department of Physiology, College of Medicine, Kyung Hee University, Seoul, Korea.
Department of Sport and Leisure Studies, Seonam University, Asan, Korea.
School of Exercise & Sport Science, College of Natural Sciences, University of Ulsan, Ulsan, Korea.


Postpartum depression (PPD) is defined as the depressive symptoms that occur from the moment of delivery until 12 months after delivery. PPD symptoms are closely associated with reduced activity of the serotonergic system. Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) plays an important role in the pathogenesis of depression. Tryptophan hydroxylase (TPH) catalyzes the rate-limiting step of 5-HT biosynthesis in the serotonergic neurons. Exercise exerts anti-depressive effect on depression patients as well as on animal models of depression. In the present study, the effect of treadmill exercise on PPD was investigated using rats. For this study, open field test for activity and forced swimming test for depressive symptoms, and immunohistochemistry for 5-HT and TPH were conducted. The rats in the exercise groups were forced to run on a motorized treadmill for 30 min once a day for 2 weeks. Activity in the open field test was decreased in the postpartum rats, however, performing treadmill running increased activity in the postpartum rats. The climbing time was decreased and the immobility time was increased in the postpartum rats. Treadmill exercise increased climbing time and suppressed immobility time in the postpartum rats. 5-HT and TPH expressions in the dorsal raphe were suppressed in the postpartum rats, and treadmill exercise enhanced 5-HT and TPH expressions in the postpartum rats. Treadmill exercise ameliorated the PPD very effectively by enhancing serotonin level.


5-Hydroxytryptamine; Postpartum depression; Treadmill exercise; Tryptophan hydroxylase

Conflict of interest statement

CONFLICT OF INTEREST No potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.

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