Treadmill exercise ameliorates motor dysfunction through inhibition of Purkinje cell loss in cerebellum of valproic acid-induced autistic rats.
J Exerc Rehabil. 2016 Aug ;12(4):293-8. Epub 2016 Aug 31. PMID: 27656625
Autism is a complex developmental disorder with impairments in social interaction, communication, repetitive behavior and motor skills. Exercise enhances cognitive function, ameliorates motor dysfunction, and provides protective profits against neurodegeneration. In the present study, we evaluated the effect of treadmill exercise on the motor coordination and Purkinje cell loss in relation with reactive astrocytes and microglial activation in the cerebellum using valproic acid (VPA)-induced autism rat model. On the 12th day of pregnancy, the pregnant rats in the VPA-exposed group received intraperitoneal injections of 600-mg/kg VPA. After birth, the rat pups were divided into four groups: the control group, the exercise group, the VPA-treated group, the VPA-treated and exercise group. The rat pups in the exercise groups were forced to run on a treadmill for 30 min once a day, 5 times a week for 4 weeks. In the present results, motor balance and coordination was disturbed by induction of autism, in contrast, treadmill exercise alleviated motor dysfunction in the autistic rats. Purkinje cell loss, reactive astrocytes, and microglial activation were occurred by induction of autism, in contrast, treadmill exercise enhanced survival rate of Purkinje neurons through inhibition of reactive astrocytes and microglia in the autistic rats. The present study showed that exercise may provide a potential therapeutic strategy for the alleviation of motor dysfunction in autistic patients.