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eISSN: 1643-3750

High-Intensity Exercise Acutely Increases Substantia Nigra and Prefrontal Brain Activity in Parkinson’s Disease

Neil A. Kelly, Kimberly H. Wood, Jane B. Allendorfer, Matthew P. Ford, C. Scott Bickel, Jon Marstrander, Amy W. Amara, Thomas Anthony, Marcas M. Bamman, Frank M. Skidmore

Department of Cell, Developmental, and Integrative Biology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA

Med Sci Monit 2017; 23:6064-6071

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.906179

Available online:

Published: 2017-12-23


BACKGROUND: Pathologic alterations in resting-state brain activity patterns exist among individuals with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Since physical exercise alters resting-state brain activity in non-PD populations and improves PD symptoms, we assessed the acute effect of exercise on resting-state brain activity in exercise-trained individuals with PD.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was collected twice for 17 PD participants at the conclusion of an exercise intervention. The acute effect of exercise was examined for PD participants using the amplitude of low frequency fluctuation (ALFF) before and after a single bout of exercise. Correlations of clinical variables (i.e., PDQ-39 quality of life and MDS-UPDRS) with ALFF values were examined for the exercise-trained PD participants.
RESULTS: An effect of acute exercise was observed as an increased ALFF signal within the right ventromedial prefrontal cortex (PFC), left ventrolateral PFC, and bilaterally within the substantia nigra (SN). Quality of life was positively correlated with ALFF values within the vmPFC and vlPFC.
CONCLUSIONS: Given the role of the SN and PFC in motor and non-motor symptoms in PD, the acute increases in brain activity within these regions, if repeated frequently over time (i.e., exercise training), may serve as a potential mechanism underlying exercise-induced PD-specific clinical benefits.

Keywords: functional neuroimaging, Parkinson Disease, resistance training



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