Distinct neuroplasticity processes are induced by different periods of acrobatic exercise training

Short and long-term physical exercise induce physiological and structural changes in brain motor areas. The relationship between changes of structural and synaptic proteins in brain motor areas and acrobatic exercise is less understood.

This study’s aim was to evaluate the expression of synapsin I (SYS), synaptophysin (SYP), microtubule-associated protein 2 (MAP2), neurofilament (NF), and a marker for recent neuronal activity (Egr-1) in the motor cortex, striatum and cerebellum of adult rats subjected to acrobatic exercise (AE, for 1-4 weeks).

The study used adult Wistar rats, divided into 4 groups based on duration of acrobatic training, namely 1 week (AE1, n=15), 2 weeks (AE2, n=15), 4 weeks (AE4, n=15), and sedentary (SED, n=15). In AE groups, the rats covered 5 times a circuit that was composed of obstacles, three times a week. The protein levels were analyzed by immunoblotting and immunohistochemistry.

The results revealed that short-term AE (AE1 and AE2) induced MAP2 decreases and NF, SYP and Egr-1 increases in the motor cortex; an increase of MAP2, SYS and SYP in the dorsolateral striatum, whereas the dorsomedial striatum showed increased NF, SYS, SYP and Egr-1. Granular cerebellar layer showed increased NF and Egr-1, with increased NF and SYP in the molecular layer. Long-term AE (AE4) promoted an increase of MAP2, SYP and Egr-1 in motor cortex; MAP2, SYS and SYP in the dorsomedial striatum; and NF and Egr-1 in the cerebellar granular layer.

In conclusion, the data suggests that different durations of AE induce distinct plastic responses among distinct cortical and subcortical circuits.