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Review
. 2014 Nov 12;34(46):15139-49.
doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2814-14.2014.

Exercise, Energy Intake, Glucose Homeostasis, and the Brain

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Free PMC article
Review

Exercise, Energy Intake, Glucose Homeostasis, and the Brain

Henriette van Praag et al. J Neurosci. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Here we summarize topics covered in an SFN symposium that considered how and why exercise and energy intake affect neuroplasticity and, conversely, how the brain regulates peripheral energy metabolism. This article is not a comprehensive review of the subject, but rather a view of how the authors' findings fit into a broader context. Emerging findings elucidate cellular and molecular mechanisms by which exercise and energy intake modify the plasticity of neural circuits in ways that affect brain health. By enhancing neurogenesis, synaptic plasticity and neuronal stress robustness, exercise and intermittent energy restriction/fasting may optimize brain function and forestall metabolic and neurodegenerative diseases. Moreover, brain-centered glucoregulatory and immunomodulating systems that mediate peripheral health benefits of intermittent energetic challenges have recently been described. A better understanding of adaptive neural response pathways activated by energetic challenges will enable the development and optimization of interventions to reduce the burden of disease in our communities.

Figures

Figure 1.
Figure 1.
Exercise and IER/fasting exert complex integrated adaptive responses in the brain and peripheral tissues involved in energy metabolism. As described in the text, both exercise and IER enhance neuroplasticity and resistance of the brain to injury and disease. Some of the effects of exercise and IER on peripheral organs are mediated by the brain, including increased parasympathetic regulation of heart rate and increased insulin sensitivity of liver and muscle cells. In turn, peripheral tissues may respond to exercise and IER by producing factors that bolster neuronal bioenergetics and brain function. Examples include the following: mobilization of fatty acids in adipose cells and production of ketone bodies in the liver; production of muscle-derived neuroactive factors, such as irisin; and production of as yet unidentified neuroprotective “preconditioning factors” (Dezfulian et al., 2013). Suppression of local inflammation in tissues throughout the body and the nervous system likely contributes to prevention and reversal of many different chronic disease processes.
Figure 2.
Figure 2.
Running enhances adult hippocampal neurogenesis and the ability of a mouse to discriminate between two adjacent identical stimuli, enabling pattern separation. Coronal section through the mouse DG was immunofluorescent double-labeled for BrdU (green) and the neuronal marker NeuN (red).
Figure 3.
Figure 3.
Working model of the 5HT neural circuit responsible for the emotional (social aversive and exaggerated fear) and cognitive (shuttle box escape deficit) impact of uncontrollable stress in rats. Regular, moderate physical activity (6 weeks wheel running) produces adaptations in the circuit that include upregulation of 5HT1A inhibitory autoreceptors on DRN cell bodies and a downregulation in 5HT2C receptors in DRN projection sites, amygdala (AMG) and dorsal striatum (DS). Together, these changes constrain the 5HT response to uncontrollable stress and prevent neural sensitization and the expression of learned helplessness behaviors.
Figure 4.
Figure 4.
Alternate day fasting (ADF) increases activity levels and reduces body temperature in rats. Young adult male Sprague Dawley rats were implanted with transmitters to enable continuous recording of activity and body temperature in the home cage. After recording activity and temperature on the usual ad libitum diet (baseline), the rats were maintained on an ADF diet for 2 months. Examples of 24 h recordings of activity (A) and body temperature (B) from one rat are shown at baseline, on a feeding day and on a fasting day; food was either removed or supplied at 16:00 h, which was 2 h before the start of the dark period. Overall activity is greater in both the dark and light periods when the rats are on the ADF diet compared with baseline, and that during the fasting day there is a robust increase in activity beginning ∼2 h before feeding time. Values are mean ± SEM (n = 6 rats).

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