Long-Term Moderate Exercise Rescues Age-Related Decline in Hippocampal Neuronal Complexity and Memory

Sheng Feng Tsai, Nai Wen Ku, Tzu Feng Wang, Yan Hsiang Yang, Yao Hsiang Shih, Shih Ying Wu, Chu Wan Lee, Megan Yu, Ting Ting Yang, Yu Min Kuo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Aging impairs hippocampal neuroplasticity and hippocampus-related learning and memory. In contrast, exercise training is known to improve hippocampal neuronal function. However, whether exercise is capable of restoring memory function in old animals is less clear. Objective: Here, we investigated the effects of exercise on the hippocampal neuroplasticity and memory functions during aging. Methods: Young (3 months), middle-aged (9-12 months), and old (18 months) mice underwent moderate-intensity treadmill running training for 6 weeks, and their hippocampus-related learning and memory, and the plasticity of their CA1 neurons was evaluated. Results: The memory performance (Morris water maze and novel object recognition tests), and dendritic complexity (branch and length) and spine density of their hippocampal CA1 neurons decreased as their age increased. The induction and maintenance of high-frequency stimulation-induced long-term potentiation in the CA1 area and the expressions of neuroplasticity-related proteins were not affected by age. Treadmill running increased CA1 neuron long-term potentiation and dendritic complexity in all three age groups, and it restored the learning and memory ability in middle-aged and old mice. Furthermore, treadmill running upregulated the hippocampal expressions of brain-derived neurotrophic factor and monocarboxylate transporter-4 in middle-aged mice, glutamine synthetase in old mice, and full-length TrkB in middle-aged and old mice. Conclusion: The hippocampus-related memory function declines from middle age, but long-term moderate-intensity running effectively increased hippocampal neuroplasticity and memory in mice of different ages, even when the memory impairment had progressed to an advanced stage. Thus, long-term, moderate intensity exercise training might be a way of delaying and treating aging-related memory decline.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)551-561
Number of pages11
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Oct 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ageing
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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