Long-Term Exercise Improves Memory Deficits via Restoration of Myelin and Microvessel Damage, and Enhancement of Neurogenesis in the Aged Gerbil Hippocampus After Ischemic Stroke

Neurorehabil Neural Repair. 2016 Oct;30(9):894-905. doi: 10.1177/1545968316638444. Epub 2016 Mar 29.


Background: The positive correlation between therapeutic exercise and memory recovery in cases of ischemia has been extensively studied; however, long-term exercise begun after ischemic neuronal death as a chronic neurorestorative strategy has not yet been thoroughly examined.

Objective: The purpose of this study is to investigate possible mechanisms by which exercise ameliorates ischemia-induced memory impairment in the aged gerbil hippocampus after transient cerebral ischemia.

Methods: Treadmill exercise was begun 5 days after ischemia-reperfusion (I-R) and lasted for 1 or 4 weeks. The animals were sacrificed 31 days after the induction of ischemia. Changes in short-term memory, as well as the hippocampal expression of markers of cell proliferation, neuroblast differentiation, neurogenesis, myelin and microvessel repair, and growth factors were examined by immunohistochemistry and/or western blots.

Results: Four weeks of exercise facilitated memory recovery despite neuronal damage in the stratum pyramidale (SP) of the hippocampal CA1 region and in the polymorphic layer (PoL) of the dentate gyrus (DG) after I-R. Long-term exercise enhanced cell proliferation and neuroblast differentiation in a time-dependent manner, and newly generated mature cells were found in the granule cell layer of the DG, but not in the SP of the CA1 region or in the PoL of the DG. In addition, long-term exercise ameliorated ischemia-induced damage of myelin and microvessels, which was correlated with increased BDNF expression in the CA1 region and the DG.

Conclusions: These results suggest that long-term treadmill exercise after I-R can restore memory function through replacement of multiple damaged structures in the ischemic aged hippocampus.

Keywords: aging; angiogenesis; brain ischemia; cognitive impairment; neuroregeneration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Avoidance Learning
  • Brain Ischemia / complications
  • Bromodeoxyuridine / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Exercise Test
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Gerbillinae
  • Glucose Transport Proteins, Facilitative / metabolism
  • Male
  • Memory Disorders / etiology*
  • Memory Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Microvessels / pathology*
  • Myelin Basic Protein / metabolism
  • Myelin Sheath / metabolism*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Neurogenesis / physiology*
  • Stroke Rehabilitation
  • Stroke* / complications
  • Stroke* / etiology
  • Stroke* / pathology
  • Time Factors


  • Glucose Transport Proteins, Facilitative
  • Myelin Basic Protein
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Bromodeoxyuridine