This study was designed to investigate beneficial effects of swimming exercise training on learning/memory, synaptic plasticity and CREB (cAMP response element binding protein) expression in hippocampus in a rat model of d
-galactose-induced aging (DGA). Eighty adult male rats were randomly divided into four groups: Saline Control (group C), DGA (group A), Swimming exercise before DGA (group S1), and Swimming during DGA (group S2). These four groups of animals were further divided into Morris water maze training group (M subgroup) and sedentary control group (N subgroup). Spatial learning/memory was tested using Morris water maze training. The number and density of synaptophysin (Syp) and metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 (mGluR1) in hippocampal dentate gyrus area, CREB mRNA and protein expression and DNA methylation levels were determined respectively with immunohistochemistry, western blot, real-time PCR, and MassArray methylation detection platform. We found that compared with group C, DGA rats showed aging-like poor health and weight loss as well as hippocampal neurodegenerative characteristics. Exercise training led to a time-dependent decrease in average escape latency and improved spatial memory. Exercise training group (S2M) had significantly increased swim distance as compared with controls. These functional improvements in S2M group were associated with higher Syp and mGluR1 values in hippocampus (p
< 0.01) as well as higher levels of hippocampal CREB protein/mRNA expression and gene methylation. In conclusion, swimming exercise training selectively during drug-induced aging process protected hippocampal neurons against DGA-elicited degenerative changes and in turn maintained neuronal synaptic plasticity and learning/memory function, possibly through upregulation of hippocampal CREB protein/mRNA and reduction of DGA-induced methylation of CREB.
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