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J Alzheimers Dis. 2018;63(2):689-703. doi: 10.3233/JAD-171017.

Stereological Investigation of the Effects of Treadmill Running Exercise on the Hippocampal Neurons in Middle-Aged APP/PS1 Transgenic Mice.

Chao F1,2, Jiang L1,2, Zhang Y1,2, Zhou C1,2, Zhang L1,2, Tang J1,2, Liang X1,2, Qi Y1,2, Zhu Y1,2, Ma J1,2, Tang Y1,2.

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Department of Histology and Embryology, Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing, P. R. China.
Laboratory of Stem Cell and Tissue Engineering, Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing, P. R. China.


The risk of cognitive decline during Alzheimer's disease (AD) can be reduced if physical activity is maintained; however, the specific neural events underlying this beneficial effect are still uncertain. To quantitatively investigate the neural events underlying the effect of running exercise on middle-aged AD subjects, 12-month-old male APP/PS1 mice were randomly assigned to a control group or running group, and age-matched non-transgenic littermates were used as a wild-type group. AD running group mice were subjected to a treadmill running protocol (regular and moderate intensity) for four months. Spatial learning and memory abilities were assessed using the Morris water maze. Hippocampal amyloid plaques were observed using Thioflavin S staining and immunohistochemistry. Hippocampal volume, number of neurons, and number of newborn cells (BrdU+ cells) in the hippocampus were estimated using stereological techniques, and newborn neurons were observed using double-labelling immunofluorescence. Marked neuronal loss in both the CA1 field and dentate gyrus (DG) and deficits in both the neurogenesis and survival of new neurons in the DG of middle-aged APP/PS1 mice were observed. Running exercise could improve the spatial learning and memory abilities, reduce amyloid plaques in the hippocampi, delay neuronal loss, induce neurogenesis, and promote the survival of newborn neurons in the DG of middle-aged APP/PS1 mice. Exercise-induced protection of neurons and adult neurogenesis within the DG might be part of the important structural basis of the improved spatial learning and memory abilities observed in AD mice.


BrdU+ cell; neuron; newborn neuron; running exercise; transgenic AD mice

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