Neuroprotective Effects of Exercise on Parkinson's: The Role of BDNF in 6-OHDA Lesioned Rats




Parry, Caleb
Salvatore, Michael
Kasanga, Ella


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Purpose: Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder of the nigrostriatal pathway that largely affects elderly individuals and leads to steady motor decline. Exercise may slow motor decline in PD patients if it is tolerable and consistent. Thus, it is important to define physiologic mechanisms by which exercise affects PD to develop similar therapies. Mechanisms may include growth factors like brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This project aims to evaluate BDNF in a tolerable exercise regimen after 6-hydroxydopamine (6-ODHA) lesion. Methods: Sprague Dawley rats were conditioned to exercise. Nigrostriatal pathways were lesioned with 6-OHDA to model PD in one group. After motor impairment was measured, exercise was initiated and occurred 3 days a week for 3 weeks with 1 day of rest between each day of exercise. Exercise consisted of a warm-up phase (8m/min for 5 min) and training phase (10 m/min for 35 min). Striatal tissue was analyzed for BDNF expression using anti-BDNF antibody and western blot. Results: Exercised 6-OHDA lesioned rats showed motor recovery compared to non-exercised rats. Anti-BDNF antibody showed bands indicating mature and pro forms of BDNF. Bands were analyzed to compare BDNF expression between exercise and non-exercise groups. Conclusion: Understanding the CNS mechanisms of exercise and its impact on PD could reveal novel therapeutic strategies that target specific proteins. This study demonstrates a tolerable training regimen that improves motor deficit and a means to study the possible role of BDNF expression in motor improvement.