Previous work has shown that allowing rats to voluntarily exercise in a running wheel for 4 wk modifies the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and behavioral coping responses to stress. To investigate whether long-term voluntary exercise would also affect the free, biologically active fraction of corticosterone in the brain, we conducted an in vivo microdialysis study in the hippocampus of rats. We monitored both the baseline circadian and ultradian patterns of corticosterone in hippocampus dialysates over the diurnal cycle and the responses to forced swim and novelty stress at different stages of exercise. Exercise for 1 d, 2 d, or 1 wk did not affect baseline circadian and ultradian pulse parameters or stress-induced hippocampal free corticosterone concentrations suggesting that acute or short-term periods of exercise do not affect baseline and stress-induced hormone levels. Baseline hormone parameters in 4 wk exercised rats, however, showed significantly increased pulse amplitudes (+108%) and mean free corticosterone levels (+42%) between 1500 and 2100 h but not between 0900 and 1500 h. Surprisingly, although our previous work showed substantial changes in stress-evoked plasma (total) corticosterone responses in long-term exercised animals, no differences in stress-induced hippocampal free hormone responses could be observed between exercised and sedentary animals. This lack of differences was not caused by compensatory changes in plasma corticosteroid-binding-globulin binding levels in exercising rats. Thus, long-term exercising rats show anticipatory increases in glucocorticoid output before the start of the active phase. These rats also reveal the putative existence of a containment mechanism preventing overexposure of the brain to glucocorticoid hormones.
|Translated title of the contribution||Distinct, time-dependent effects of voluntary exercise on circadian and ultradian rhythms and stress responses of free corticosterone in the rat hippocampus|
|Pages (from-to)||4170 - 4179|
|Number of pages||10|
|Early online date||28 May 2009|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Sep 2009|