Regular aerobic exercise increased VEGF levels in both soleus and gastrocnemius muscles correlated with hippocampal learning and VEGF levels

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Karakilic A., Yüksel O., Kızıldağ S., Hosgorler F. U., Topcugil B., Ilgin R., ...More

ACTA NEUROBIOLOGIAE EXPERIMENTALIS, vol.81, no.1, pp.1-9, 2021 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 81 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.21307/ane-2021-001
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Animal Behavior Abstracts, Aquatic Science & Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA), BIOSIS, EMBASE, MEDLINE
  • Page Numbers: pp.1-9
  • Keywords: exercise, muscle fiber type, VEGF, antioxidant, spatial learning and memory
  • Dokuz Eylül University Affiliated: Yes


Physical exercise improves learning and memory abilities by increasing the levels of several growth factors in the hippocampus. One growth factor, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), is primarily produced in the muscles and not only increases in the periphery during exercise but can also cross the blood-brain barrier. The aim of this study is to investigate the effects of regular aerobic chronic exercise on different types of muscle fibers and the relationships between learning/memory and muscle induced-VEGF. Following a one-week adaptation period, male rats underwent treadmill training at a speed of 8 m/min for 30 min daily, 3 days a week for 6 weeks. Memory functions were evaluated using the Morris water maze. VEGF, superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GPx), and malondialdehyde (MDA) levels were measured in type 1 and type 2 muscle fibers and VEGF levels were also measured in the hippocampus. Exercise positively affected both learning and memory and also increased VEGF levels in both muscle fiber types. Muscle VEGF levels positively correlate with hippocampal learning and hippocampal VEGF levels. Exercise reduced both SOD and MDA levels in type 1 and type 2 muscle fibers, whereas GPx levels decreased only in type 2 muscle fibers. Our findings suggest that regular aerobic exercise elevates VEGF levels and diminishes oxidative stress in both fiber types. Exercise-induced VEGF levels in both type 1 and 2 muscle fibers appear to be associated with the positive effect of exercise on learning and memory function and is accompanied by an increase in VEGF levels in the hippocampus. Further research is needed to elucidate the exact mechanism by which fiber type-specific VEGF mediates hippocampal neurogenesis and angiogenesis.