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BioMed Research International
Volume 2018, Article ID 7212861, 13 pages
Research Article

Heme Oxygenase-1 Activity as a Correlate to Exercise-Mediated Amelioration of Cognitive Decline and Neuropathological Alterations in an Aging Rat Model of Dementia

1Department of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapy, University of Debrecen, Debrecen, Hungary
2MTA-DE Cerebrovascular and Neurodegenerative Research Group, Department of Neurology & Neuropathology, University of Debrecen, Debrecen, Hungary
3Department of Nuclear Medicine, University of Debrecen, Debrecen, Hungary
4Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Neuroscience, University of Szeged, Szeged, Hungary

Correspondence should be addressed to Béla Juhász; uh.bedinu.dem@aleb.zsahuj

Received 17 July 2017; Revised 24 November 2017; Accepted 1 January 2018; Published 30 January 2018

Academic Editor: Lap Ho

Copyright © 2018 Andrea Kurucz et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder with cognitive impairment. Physical exercise has long been proven to be beneficial in the disorder. The present study was designed to examine the effect of voluntary exercise on spatial memory, imaging, and pathological abnormalities. Particular focus has been given to the role of heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1)—an important cellular cytoprotectant in preserving mental acuity—using an aging rat model of dementia. Male and female Wistar rats were segregated into six groups—namely, (i) aged sedentary (control) females (ASF, ); (ii) aged sedentary (control) males (ASM, ); (iii) aged running females (ARF, ); (iv) aged running males (ARM, ); (v) young control females (YCF, ); and (vi) young control males (YCM, ). Rats in the ARF and ARM groups had free access to a standardized inbuilt running wheel during the 3-month evaluation period. Spatial memory was investigated using the Morris Water Test, imaging and pathological alterations were assessed using positron emission tomography (PET) imaging and histopathological examinations (H&E, Congo red staining), respectively, and HO-1 enzyme activity assays were also conducted. The outcomes suggest that voluntary physical exercise mitigates impaired spatial memory and neuropathological changes exhibited by the aging sedentary group, via elevated HO-1 activity, contributing to the antioxidant capacity in the aging brain.