Exercise and the brain: angiogenesis in the adult rat cerebellum after vigorous physical activity and motor skill learning

J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 1992 Jan;12(1):110-9. doi: 10.1038/jcbfm.1992.14.


This study compared the morphology of cerebellar cortex in adult female rats exposed for 1 month to repetitive exercise, motor learning, or an inactive condition. In the exercise conditions, rats that were run on a treadmill or housed with access to a running wheel had a shorter diffusion distance from blood vessels in the molecular layer of the paramedian lobule when compared to rats housed individually or rats that participated in a motor skill learning task. Rats taught complex motor skills substantially increased the volume of the molecular layer per Purkinje neuron and increased blood vessel number sufficiently to maintain the diffusion distance. These results dissociate angiogenesis associated with increased neuropil volume (as seen in the motor learning group) from angiogenesis associated with increased metabolic demands (as seen in the exercise groups). While the volume fraction of mitochondria did not differ among groups, the mitochondrial volume fraction per Purkinje cell was significantly increased in the motor skill rats. This appears to parallel the previously reported increase in synapses and associated neuropil volume change.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Capillaries / ultrastructure
  • Cerebellum / blood supply*
  • Cerebellum / ultrastructure
  • Female
  • Learning*
  • Motor Skills*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic*
  • Physical Exertion*
  • Rats