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, 428 (2), 213-22

Does Long-Term Physical Exercise Counteract Age-Related Purkinje Cell Loss? A Stereological Study of Rat Cerebellum

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  • PMID: 11064362

Does Long-Term Physical Exercise Counteract Age-Related Purkinje Cell Loss? A Stereological Study of Rat Cerebellum

J O Larsen et al. J Comp Neurol.

Abstract

Physical exercise affects properties of the central nervous system that may increase the brain's ability to counteract degenerative changes. We have previously reported that rats trained from 5 to 23 months of age have less age-related decrease in spontaneous motor activity than sham-treated sedentary rats. Each rat ran at a speed of 20 m/min on a horizontal treadmill, for 20 minutes, two times per day, 5 days a week. In the present study we have carried out stereological analyses of the cerebella of the same rats. The total number of Purkinje cells was estimated with the optical fractionator technique, the local volumes of individual Purkinje cells with the planar rotator technique, and the volumes of the cerebellar layers with Cavalierìs principle. We found that sedentary aged rats have 11% fewer Purkinje cells and 9% smaller Purkinje cell soma volumes (both 2P = 0.02) than exercised aged rats, and that exercised aged rats have the same number of Purkinje cells as young rats. These findings indicate that the degree of age-associated degenerative changes in parts of the central nervous system is dependent on earlier life style and health habits and may be prevented or delayed by physical exercise.

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