Age-related memory loss is considered to commence at middle-age and coincides with reduced adult hippocampal neurogenesis and neurotrophin levels. Consistent physical activity at midlife may preserve brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels, new cell genesis, and learning. In the present study, 9-month-old female C57Bl/6J mice were housed with or without a running wheel and injected with bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) to label newborn cells. Morris water maze learning, open field activity and rotarod behavior were tested 1 and 6 months after exercise onset. Here we show that long-term running improved retention of spatial memory and modestly enhanced rotarod performance at 15 months of age. Both hippocampal neurogenesis and mature BDNF peptide levels were elevated after long-term running. Thus, regular exercise from the onset and during middle-age may maintain brain function.
Copyright © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.