1. Department of Biomedical Engineering, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan
2. Center of General Education, Southern Taiwan University of Science and Technology, Tainan, Taiwan
3. Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Chi-Mei Medical Center, Tainan, Taiwan
4. Department of Medicine, Mackay Medical College, New Taipei, Taiwan
5. Department of Electronic Engineering, National Chin-Yi University of Technology, Taichung, Taiwan
6. Department of Medical Research, Chi Mei Medical Center, Tainan, Taiwan
7. Department of Neurology, Chi Mei Medical Center, Tainan, Taiwan
8. Medical Device Innovation Center, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan
9. Department of Recreation and Healthcare Management, Chia Nan University of Pharmacy and Science, Tainan, Taiwan
Background: Exercise preconditioning (EP+) is a useful and important procedure for the prevention of stroke. We aimed to ascertain whether EP+ protects against ischemic brain injury by preserving heat shock protein (HSP) 72-containing neurons in ischemic brain tissues.
Methods: Adult male Sprague-Dawley rats (n=240) were used to assess the contribution of HSP72-containing neurons to the neuroprotective effects of EP+ on ischemic brain injury caused by transient middle cerebral artery occlusion.
Results: Significant (P<0.05) increases in the percentages of both old HSP72-containing neurons (NeuN+HSP72 double positive cells) (18~20% vs. 40~50%) and newly formed HSP72-containing neurons (BrdU+NeuN+HSP72 triple positive cells); (2~3% vs. 16~20%) after 3 weeks of exercise coincided with significant (P<0.05) reductions in brain ischemia volume (250 mm3 vs. 100 mm3), brain edema (78% vs. 74% brain water content), blood-brain barrier disruption (1.5 μg/g vs. 0.7 μg/g tissue Evans Blue dye extravasation) and neurological motor deficits (neurological severity scores of 12 vs. 6 and maximal angles of 60° vs. 20°) in brain ischemia rats. Reductions in the percentages of both old (from 40~50% to 10~12%) and newly formed (from 18~20% to 5~7%) HSP72-containing neurons by gene silencing with an intracerebral injection of pSUPER small interfering RNA showed a significant (P<0.05) reversal in the neuroprotective outcomes. Our data provide an inverse correlation between the EP+-mediated increases in both old and newly formed HSP72-containing neurons and the extent of cerebral ischemic injury.
Conclusions: The percentages of both old and newly formed HSP72-containing neurons are inversely correlated with the outcomes of ischemic brain injury. Additionally, preischemic treadmill exercise improves the outcomes of ischemic brain injury by preserving both the old and newly formed HSP72-containing neurons in rats.
Keywords: Exercise, heat shock protein 72, neuroprotection, ischemic brain injury