Vascular hippocampal plasticity after aerobic exercise in older adults.Mol Psychiatry 2015; 20(5):585-93MP
Aerobic exercise in young adults can induce vascular plasticity in the hippocampus, a critical region for recall and recognition memory. In a mechanistic proof-of-concept intervention over 3 months, we investigated whether healthy older adults (60-77 years) also show such plasticity. Regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) and volume (rCBV) were measured with gadolinium-based perfusion imaging (3 Tesla magnetic resonance image (MRI)). Hippocampal volumes were assessed by high-resolution 7 Tesla MRI. Fitness improvement correlated with changes in hippocampal perfusion and hippocampal head volume. Perfusion tended to increase in younger, but to decrease in older individuals. The changes in fitness, hippocampal perfusion and volume were positively related to changes in recognition memory and early recall for complex spatial objects. Path analyses indicated that fitness-related changes in complex object recognition were modulated by hippocampal perfusion. These findings indicate a preserved capacity of the aging human hippocampus for functionally relevant vascular plasticity, which decreases with progressing age.