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Changes in white matter microstructure and MRI-derived cerebral blood flow after one-week of exercise training

Steventon, J.J., Chandler, H.L., Foster, C., Dingsdale, H., Germuska, M., Massey, T., Parker, G., Wise, R.G. and Murphy, K. 2021. Changes in white matter microstructure and MRI-derived cerebral blood flow after one-week of exercise training. Scientific Reports 11 , 22061. 10.1038/s41598-021-01630-7

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Exercise is beneficial for brain health, inducing neuroplasticity and vascular plasticity in the hippocampus, which is possibly mediated by brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels. Here we investigated the short-term effects of exercise, to determine if a 1-week intervention is sufficient to induce brain changes. Fifteen healthy young males completed five supervised exercise training sessions over seven days. This was preceded and followed by a multi-modal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan (diffusion-weighted MRI, perfusion-weighted MRI, dual-calibrated functional MRI) acquired 1 week apart, and blood sampling for BDNF. A diffusion tractography analysis showed, after exercise, a significant reduction relative to baseline in restricted fraction—an axon-specific metric—in the corpus callosum, uncinate fasciculus, and parahippocampal cingulum. A voxel-based approach found an increase in fractional anisotropy and reduction in radial diffusivity symmetrically, in voxels predominantly localised in the corpus callosum. A selective increase in hippocampal blood flow was found following exercise, with no change in vascular reactivity. BDNF levels were not altered. Thus, we demonstrate that 1 week of exercise is sufficient to induce microstructural and vascular brain changes on a group level, independent of BDNF, providing new insight into the temporal dynamics of plasticity, necessary to exploit the therapeutic potential of exercise.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Physics and Astronomy
Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC)
Publisher: Nature Research
ISSN: 2045-2322
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 26 July 2021
Date of Acceptance: 31 May 2021
Last Modified: 29 Apr 2022 07:49

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