Aerobic exercise reverses aging-induced depth-dependent decline in cerebral microcirculation

Paul Shin, Qi Pian, Hidehiro Ishikawa, Gen Hamanaka, Emiri T. Mandeville, Shuzhen Guo, Buyin Fu, Mohammed Alfadhel, Srinivasa Rao Allu, Ikbal Şencan-Eğilmez, Baoqiang Li, Chongzhao Ran, Sergei A. Vinogradov, Cenk Ayata, Eng Lo, Ken Arai, Anna Devor, Sava Sakadžić

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Aging is a major risk factor for cognitive impairment. Aerobic exercise benefits brain function and may promote cognitive health in older adults. However, underlying biological mechanisms across cerebral gray and white matter are poorly understood. Selective vulnerability of the white matter to small vessel disease and a link between white matter health and cognitive function suggests a potential role for responses in deep cerebral microcirculation. Here, we tested whether aerobic exercise modulates cerebral microcirculatory changes induced by aging. To this end, we carried out a comprehensive quantitative examination of changes in cerebral microvascular physiology in cortical gray and subcortical white matter in mice (3–6 vs. 19–21 months old), and asked whether and how exercise may rescue age-induced deficits. In the sedentary group, aging caused a more severe decline in cerebral microvascular perfusion and oxygenation in deep (infragranular) cortical layers and subcortical white matter compared with superficial (supragranular) cortical layers. Five months of voluntary aerobic exercise partly renormalized microvascular perfusion and oxygenation in aged mice in a depth-dependent manner, and brought these spatial distributions closer to those of young adult sedentary mice. These microcirculatory effects were accompanied by an improvement in cognitive function. Our work demonstrates the selective vulnerability of the deep cortex and subcortical white matter to aging-induced decline in microcirculation, as well as the responsiveness of these regions to aerobic exercise.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere86329
StatePublished - Jul 2023


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