Exercise induces behavioral recovery and attenuates neurochemical deficits in rodent models of Parkinson's disease

Neuroscience. 2003;119(3):899-911. doi: 10.1016/s0306-4522(03)00096-4.


Exercise is thought to improve motor function and emotional well-being in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). However, it is not clear if the improvements are due to neurochemical alterations within the affected nigrostriatal region or result from a more general effect of exercise on affect and motivation. In this study we show that motorized treadmill running improves the neurochemical and behavioral outcomes in two rodent models of PD: the unilateral 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) rat model and bilateral 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) model in aged C57bl mice. Exposure to the dopamine (DA) toxins 6-OHDA or MPTP resulted in permanent behavioral and neurochemical loss. In contrast, when lesioned animals were exposed to treadmill activity two times a day for the first 10 days post-lesion they displayed no behavioral deficits across testing days and had significant sparing of striatal DA, its metabolites, tyrosine hydroxylase, vesicular monoamine transporter, and DA transporter levels compared to lesion sedentary animals. These results demonstrate that exercise following nigrostriatal damage ameliorates related motor symptoms and neurochemical deficits in rodent models of PD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • 1-Methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Exercise Test
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Male
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism
  • Membrane Transport Proteins*
  • Mice
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Neostriatum / metabolism*
  • Neostriatum / physiopathology
  • Neural Pathways / metabolism*
  • Neural Pathways / physiopathology
  • Neuropeptides*
  • Oxidopamine / pharmacology
  • Parkinsonian Disorders / metabolism
  • Parkinsonian Disorders / physiopathology
  • Parkinsonian Disorders / therapy*
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred F344
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Recovery of Function / physiology
  • Substantia Nigra / metabolism*
  • Substantia Nigra / physiopathology
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase / metabolism
  • Up-Regulation / physiology
  • Vesicular Biogenic Amine Transport Proteins
  • Vesicular Monoamine Transport Proteins


  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Neuropeptides
  • Vesicular Biogenic Amine Transport Proteins
  • Vesicular Monoamine Transport Proteins
  • Oxidopamine
  • 1-Methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase
  • Dopamine