Research Reports - Exercise rehabilitation attenuates cognitive deficits with traumatic brain injury

Chou, W., Liu, YF., Lin, CH. et al.

Mol Neurobiol (2018).

Physical exercise (PE) is an effective method for improving cognitive function among patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI). We previously demonstrated that PE with an infrared-sensing running wheel (ISRW) system provides strong neuroprotection in an experimental animal model of stroke. In this study, we used fluid percussion injury in rats to simulate mild TBI. For rats, we used both passive avoidance learning and the Y-maze tests to evaluate cognitive function. We investigated whether PE rehabilitation attenuated cognitive deficits in rats with TBI and determined the contribution of hippocampal and cortical expression of heat shock protein 20 (HSP20) to PE-mediated cognitive recovery. In addition to increasing hippocampal and cortical expression of HSP20, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), and the tropomyosin receptor kinase B (TrkB) ratio, PE rehabilitation significantly attenuated brain contusion and improved cognitive deficits in the rat model. Furthermore, reducing hippocampal and cortical expression of HSP20 with an intracerebral injection of pSUPER hsp20 small interfering RNA significantly diminished the PE-induced overexpression of hippocampal and cortical BDNF and the TrkB ratio and also reversed the beneficial effect of PE in reducing neurotrauma and the cognitive deficits. A positive Pearson correlation was found between HSP20 and BDNF, as well as between HSP20 and TrkB, in the hippocampal and cortical tissues. We thus conclude that post-ischaemic ISRW exercise rehabilitation attenuates cognitive deficits, as well as brain contusions, in TBI rats by stimulating the cerebral HSP20/BDNF/TrkB signalling axis.

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