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Circulating insulin-like growth factor I mediates the protective effects of physical exercise against brain insults of different etiology and anatomy

AuthorsCarro, Eva; Trejo, José L. ; Busiguina, S.; Torres Alemán, Ignacio
Issue Date2001
PublisherSociety for Neuroscience
CitationJournal of Neuroscience 21: 5678- 5684 (2001)
AbstractPhysical exercise ameliorates age-related neuronal loss and is currently recommended as a therapeutical aid in several neurodegenerative diseases. However, evidence is still lacking to firmly establish whether exercise constitutes a practical neuroprotective strategy. We now show that exercise provides a remarkable protection against brain insults of different etiology and anatomy. Laboratory rodents were submitted to treadmill running (1 km/d) either before or after neurotoxin insult of the hippocampus (domoic acid) or the brainstem (3-acetylpyridine) or along progression of inherited neurodegeneration affecting the cerebellum (Purkinje cell degeneration). In all cases, animals show recovery of behavioral performance compared with sedentary ones,i.e., intact spatial memory in hippocampal-injured mice, and normal or near to normal motor coordination in brainstem- and cerebellum-damaged animals. Furthermore, exercise blocked neuronal impairment or loss in all types of injuries. Because circulating insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I), a potent neurotrophic hormone, mediates many of the effects of exercise on the brain, we determined whether neuroprotection by exercise is mediated by IGF-I. Indeed, subcutaneous administration of a blocking anti-IGF-I antibody to exercising animals to inhibit exercise-induced brain uptake of IGF-I abrogates the protective effects of exercise in all types of lesions; antibodyt-reated animals showed sedentary-like brain damage. These results indicate that exercise prevents and protects from brain damage through increased uptake of circulating IGF-I by the brain. The practice of physical exercise is thus strongly recommended as a preventive measure against neuronal demise. These findings also support the use of IGF-I as a therapeutical aid in brain diseases coursing with either acute or progressive neuronal death.
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