Anatomical effects of exercise following ischemic insult in young and aged c57BL/6 mice

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Stroke is a leading cause of long-term disability. Current rehabilitative strategies are expensive and often fail to yield complete recovery. Focused training of the impaired limb improves outcome in rodents, but these strategies require intensive training that is not feasible for humans. Because aerobic exercise has been found to induce beneficial changes in the brain, it is a promising rehabilitative strategy following stroke. Exercise may require less intensity and is less expensive than traditional therapy. Understanding the mechanisms underlying recovery from animal models will aid in optimizing rehabilitation strategies in human patients. Research using a mouse model of exercise rehabilitation after stroke allows for a better understanding of mechanisms of recovery through tissue analysis. The current study investigated the effect of post-stroke exercise on young and aged mice. Mice were trained on a skilled reaching task before receiving focal ischemic stroke. Mice were subdivided into three different groups for rehabilitative training: traditional rehabilitation, aerobic exercise, and control procedures. Both young and aged mice benefited from aerobic exercise after stroke. The improved motor function recovery was not associated with increased levels of neurogenesis in the peri-infarct cortex in either the young or aged mice. Aerobic exercise may be an affordable and effective alternative to traditional rehabilitative strategies, but these results suggest the total number of new neurons recruited to the region surrounding the lesion is not underlying its efficacy. Alternative potential mechanisms need to be further investigated.



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