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Circulating insulin-like growth factor I mediates exercise-induced increases in the number of new neurons in the adult hippocampus

AuthorsTrejo, José L. ; Carro, Eva; Torres Alemán, Ignacio
Issue Date2001
PublisherSociety for Neuroscience
CitationJournal of Neuroscience 21: 1628- 1634 (2001)
AbstractAlthough the physiological significance of continued formation of new neurons in the adult mammalian brain is still uncertain, therapeutic strategies aimed to potentiate this process show great promise. Several external factors, including physical exercise, increase the number of new neurons in the adult hippocampus, but underlying mechanisms are not yet known. We recently found that exercise stimulates uptake of the neurotrophic factor insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) from the blood-stream into specific brain areas, including the hippocampus. In addition, IGF-I participates in the effects of exercise on hippocampal c-fos expression and mimics several other effects of exercise on brain function. Because subcutaneous administration of IGF-I to sedentary adult rats markedly increases the number of new neurons in the hippocampus, we hypothesized that exercise-induced brain uptake of blood-borne IGF-I could mediate the stimulatory effects of exercise on the adult hippocampus. Thus, we blocked the entrance of circulating IGF-I into the brain by subcutaneous infusion of a blocking IGF-I antiserum to rats undergoing exercise training. The resulting inhibition of brain uptake of IGF-I was paralleled by complete inhibition of exercise-induced increases in the number of new neurons in the hippocampus. Exercising rats receiving an infusion of nonblocking serum showed normal increases in the number of new hippocampal neurons after exercise. Thus, increased uptake of blood-borne IGF-I is necessary for the stimulatory effects of exercise on the number of new granule cells in the adult hippocampus. Taken together with previous results, we conclude that circulating IGF-I is an important determinant of exercise-induced changes in the adult brain.
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