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Behavioural Neurology
Volume 16 (2005), Issue 1, Pages 41-49

Wheel-Running Modestly Promotes Functional Recovery after a Unilateral Cortical Lesion in Rats

Xiurong Zhao,1 Jaroslaw Aronowski,1 Shi-Jie Liu,1 Timothy Schallert,2 Jie Zhang,2 Roger Strong,2 Zhi-Shuo Ou,2 Theresa Nguyen,2 and James C. Grotta1

1Department of Neurology, University of Texas, Medical School, Houston, TX 77030, USA
2University of Texas at Austin, Institute for Neuroscience, Austin, TX 78712, USA

Received 27 July 2005; Accepted 27 July 2005

Copyright © 2005 Hindawi Publishing Corporation and the authors. 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.


Background: We aimed to determine whether early or delayed wheel-running (W) after a cortical lesion in rats influences functional recovery and protein expression involving synaptic plasticity.

Methods: 57 rats were arranged in 4 groups: (1) Sham, (2) NMDA, (3) W-24 h or (4) W-72 h (W-24 h and W-72 h means wheel-running for 14 days starting day 1 or day 3 after NMDA lesion). NMDA produced a standardized lesion in the unilateral sensorimotor cortex and detectable behavioral deficits. Synaptogenesis was measured by immunohistochemistry.

Results: Wheel-running starting after 24 h had no detectable effect, but it significantly speeded functional recovery when delayed to after 72 h. These results were in accordance with a marker linked to synaptogenesis.

Conclusion: Wheel-running starting 3 days, but not 1 day, after an NMDA lesion is associated with improved functional recovery.