Exercise may alleviate locomotor impairment in Parkinson's disease (PD) or aging. Identifying molecular responses immediately engaged by exercise in the nigrostriatal pathway and allied tissue may reveal critical targets associated with its long-term benefits. In aging, there is loss of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) and the glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) receptor, GFR-α1, in the substantia nigra (SN). Exercise can increase GDNF expression, but its effect on GFR-α1 expression is unknown. Infusion of GDNF into striatum or GFR-α1 in SN, respectively, can increase locomotor activity and TH function in SN but not striatum in aged rats. GDNF may also increase glutamate transporter expression, which attenuates TH loss in PD models. We utilized a footshock-free treadmill exercise regimen to determine the immediate impact of short-term exercise on GFR-α1 expression, dopamine regulation, glutamate transporter expression, and glutamate uptake in 18 month old male Brown-Norway/Fischer 344 F1 hybrid rats. GFR-α1 and TH expression significantly increased in SN but not striatum. This exercise regimen did not affect glutamate uptake or glutamate transporter expression in striatum. However, EAAC1 expression increased in SN. These results indicate that nigral GFR-α1 and EAAC1 expression increased in conjunction with increased nigral TH expression following short-term exercise.
- substantia nigra
- tyrosine hydroxylase