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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 709732, 10 pages
Research Article

Treadmill Exercise Induces Hippocampal Astroglial Alterations in Rats

1Programa de Pós-Graduação em Neurociências, Instituto de Ciências Básicas da Saúde, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, 90046-900 Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil
2Departamento de Bioquímica, Instituto de Ciências Básicas da Saúde, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, 90035-003 Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil

Received 3 September 2012; Revised 23 November 2012; Accepted 3 December 2012

Academic Editor: Michel Baudry

Copyright © 2013 Caren Bernardi 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.


Physical exercise effects on brain health and cognitive performance have been described. Synaptic remodeling in hippocampus induced by physical exercise has been described in animal models, but the underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood. Changes in astrocytes, the glial cells involved in synaptic remodeling, need more characterization. We investigated the effect of moderate treadmill exercise (20 min/day) for 4 weeks on some parameters of astrocytic activity in rat hippocampal slices, namely, glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), glutamate uptake and glutamine synthetase (GS) activities, glutathione content, and S100B protein content and secretion, as well as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels and glucose uptake activity in this tissue. Results show that moderate treadmill exercise was able to induce a decrease in GFAP content (evaluated by ELISA and immunohistochemistry) and an increase in GS activity. These changes could be mediated by corticosterone, whose levels were elevated in serum. BDNF, another putative mediator, was not altered in hippocampal tissue. Moreover, treadmill exercise caused a decrease in NO content. Our data indicate specific changes in astrocyte markers induced by physical exercise, the importance of studying astrocytes for understanding brain plasticity, as well as reinforce the relevance of physical exercise as a neuroprotective strategy.