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Neurol Sci. 2014 May;35(5):761-6. doi: 10.1007/s10072-013-1599-y. Epub 2013 Dec 11.

Effect of treadmill exercise on 5-HT, 5-HT1A receptor and brain derived neurophic factor in rats after permanent middle cerebral artery occlusion.

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Department of Neurology, The First Affiliated Hospital, Chongqing Medical University, 1st Youyi Road, Yuzhong District, Chongqing, 400016, People's Republic of China.


It has been well documented that exercise promotes neurological rehabilitation in patients with cerebral ischemia. However, the exact mechanisms have not been fully elucidated. This study aimed to discuss the effect of treadmill exercise on expression levels of 5-HT, 5-HT1A receptor (5-HT1AR) and brain derived neurophic factor (BDNF) in rat brains after permanent middle cerebral artery occlusion (pMCAO). A total of 55 rats were randomly divided into 3 groups: pMCAO group, pMCAO and treadmill exercise (pMCAO + Ex) group, and sham-operated group. Rats in pMCAO + Ex group underwent treadmill exercise for 16 days. Neurological function was evaluated by modified Neurological Severity Scores (mNSS). High-performance liquid chromatography-electrochemical detection system was used to determine the content of 5-HT in cortex tissues. The protein levels of 5-HT1AR, BDNF and synaptophysin were measured by Western blot. The mNSS in pMCAO + Ex group was lower than that in pMCAO group on day 19 post-MCAO (p < 0.001). The content of 5-HT dropped to 3.81 ± 1.86 ng/ml in pMCAO group (43.84 ± 2.05 ng/ml in sham-operated group), but increased in pMCAO + Ex group (10.06 ± 1.80 ng/ml). The protein expressions levels of synaptophysin, 5-HT1AR and BDNF were downregulated after cerebral ischemia (p < 0.05), and upregulated after treadmill exercise (p < 0.05). These results indicate that treadmill exercise improves neurologic function, enhances neuronal plasticity and upregulates the levels of 5-HT, 5-HT1AR and BDNF in rats with pMCAO.

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