Previous studies have shown that running exercise could increase regional cerebral blood flow. There have been previous studies investigating the effects of running exercise on capillary density in the brain and showing that running exercise could induce brain angiogenesis. However, there have been no studies investigating the effects of running exercise on the total volume, total length and total surface area of the capillaries in the cortex. Moreover, sex differences in the effects of running exercise on the capillaries of the cortex have not previously been investigated. The current study was designed to investigate the effects of running exercise on the capillaries in the cortex of middle-aged rats using the new unbiased stereological methods. The present study found that the total length and total surface area of the capillaries in the cortex of running middle-aged female rats were significantly increased, compared to control rats. Our results also reveal that there are sex differences in the effects of running exercise on the capillaries in the cortex of middle-aged rats. These results demonstrate that exercise-induced increases of the capillaries in the female rat cortex might be one of the structural bases for the exercise-induced improvement in the spatial learning capacity of middle-aged female rats. These results provide a baseline for further studies that search for strategies to delay the deleterious effects of brain aging.
Copyright © 2012 IBRO. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.