Running exercise effects on spatial and avoidance tasks in ovariectomized rats.
ABSTRACT Since previous studies have shown that ovariectomy impairs memory and cognition, we investigated whether physical exercise would affect ovariectomy-induced memory deficits in inhibitory avoidance and Morris water maze tasks. Female adult Wistar rats were assigned to one of the following groups: sham (submitted to surgery without removal of the ovaries), exercise, ovariectomy (Ovx) and Ovx plus exercise. Thirty days after ovariectomy or sham surgery, animals were submitted to 1 month of treadmill exercise training for 20 min, three times per week. Rats were than tested in inhibitory avoidance and Morris water maze tasks in order to verify ovariectomy effects on aversive and spatial memory performance. Results show that ovariectomized rats were impaired in aversive memory and spatial navigation, both in reference and working memory protocols. Confirming the working hypothesis, ovariectomized rats submitted to exercise had those impairments prevented. These findings support that physical exercise might constitute an important strategy to minimize cognitive deficits found in post-menopausal women.