Anderson BJ, Greenwood SJ and McCloskey D (2010) Exercise as an intervention for the age-related decline in neural metabolic support. Front. Ag. Neurosci. 4:30. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2010.00030

Department of Psychology and Program Neuroscience, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY, USA; Department of Psychology, Center for Developmental Neuroscience and Developmental Disabilities, College of Staten Island/City University of New York, Staten Island, NY, USA

To identify interventions for brain aging, we must first identify the processes in which we hope to intervene. Brain aging is a period of decreasing functional capacity and increasing vulnerability, which reflect a reduction in morphological organization and perhaps degeneration. Since life is ultimately dependent upon the ability to maintain cellular organization through metabolism, this review explores evidence for a decline in neural metabolic support during aging, which includes a reduction in whole brain cerebral blood flow, and cellular metabolic capacity. Capillary density may also decrease with age, although the results are less clear. Exercise may be a highly effective intervention for brain aging, because it improves the cardiovascular system as a whole, and increases regional capillary density and neuronal metabolic capacity. Although the evidence is strongest for motor regions, more work may yield additional evidence for exercise-related improvement in metabolic support in non-motor regions. The protective effects of exercise may be specific to brain region and the type of insult. For example, exercise protects striatal cells from ischemia, but it produces mixed results after hippocampal seizures. Exercise can improve metabolic support and bioenergetic capacity in adult animals, but it remains to be determined whether it has similar effects in aging animals. What is clear is that exercise can influence the multiple levels of support necessary for maintaining optimal neuronal function, which is unique among proposed interventions for aging.

Copyright: © 2010 Anderson, Greenwood and McCloskey. This is an open-access article subject to an exclusive license agreement between the authors and the Frontiers Research Foundation, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original authors and source are credited.