Environmental enrichment improves functional and neuropathological indices following stroke in young and aged rats.
ABSTRACT Aging is associated with a temporally dysregulated cellular response to ischemia as well as poor functional recovery. While environmental enrichment has been shown to improve the behavioral outcome of stroke in young animals, the effect of an enriched environment on behavioral and neuropathological recovery in aged animals is not known.
Focal cerebral ischemia was produced by electrocoagulation of the right middle cerebral artery in 3 month- and 20 month-old male Sprague-Dawley rats. The functional outcome was assessed in neurobehavioral tests conducted over a period of 28 days following surgery. Brain tissue was then immunostained for proliferating astrocytes and the infarct and scar tissue volumes were measured.
Aged rats showed more severe behavioral impairments and diminished functional recovery compared to young rats. Most infarcted animals had disturbances of sensorimotor function, with recovery beginning later, progressing more slowly, and reaching a lower functional endpoint in aged animals. However, the enriched environment significantly improved the rate and extent of recovery in aged animals. Correlation analysis revealed that the beneficial effect of the enriched environment on recovery, both in young and aged rats, correlated highly with a reduction in infarct size, in the number of proliferating astrocytes, and in the volume of the glial scar.
These results suggest that temporally modulating astrocytic proliferation and the ensuing scar formation might be a fruitful approach to improving functional recovery after stroke in aged rats.
Article: The effects of a rhythm and music-based therapy program and therapeutic riding in late recovery phase following stroke: a study protocol for a three-armed randomized controlled trial.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Stroke represents one of the most costly and long-term disabling conditions in adulthood worldwide and there is a need to determine the effectiveness of rehabilitation programs in the late phase after stroke. Limited scientific support exists for training incorporating rhythm and music as well as therapeutic riding and well-designed trials to determine the effectiveness of these treatment modalities are warranted. METHODS: A single blinded three-armed randomized controlled trial is described with the aim to evaluate whether it is possible to improve the overall health status and functioning of individuals in the late phase of stroke (1-5 years after stroke) through a rhythm and music-based therapy program or therapeutic riding. About 120 individuals will be consecutively and randomly allocated to one of three groups: (T1) A rhythm and music-based therapy program; (T2) therapeutic riding; or (T3) control group receiving the T1 training program a year later. Evaluation is conducted prior to and after the 12-week long intervention as well as three and six months later. The evaluation comprises a comprehensive functional and cognitive assessment (both qualitative and quantitative), and questionnaires. Based on the International classification of functioning, disability, and health (ICF), the outcome measures are classified into six comprehensive domains, with participation as the primary outcome measure assessed by the Stroke Impact Scale (SIS, version 2.0.). The secondary outcome measures are grouped within the following domains: body function, activity, environmental factors and personal factors. Life satisfaction and health related quality of life constitute an additional domain. Thus far, a total of 84 participants were randomised and have completed the intervention. Recruitment proceeds and follow-up is on-going, trial results are expected in 2014.Current statusA total of 84 participants were randomised and have completed the intervention. Recruitment proceeds and follow-up is on-going, trial results are expected in early 2014. DISCUSSION: This study will ascertain whether any of the two intervention programs can improve overall health status and functioning in the late phase of stroke. A positive outcome would increase the scientific basis for the use of such interventions in the late phase after stroke.Trial registrationClinical Trials.gov Identifier: NCT01372059.BMC Neurology 11/2012; 12(1):141. · 2.17 Impact Factor
Journal of aging research 01/2012; 2012:128146.
Article: Short-term enrichment makes male rats more attractive, more defensive and alters hypothalamic neurons.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Innate behaviors are shaped by contingencies built during evolutionary history. On the other hand, environmental stimuli play a significant role in shaping behavior. In particular, a short period of environmental enrichment can enhance cognitive behavior, modify effects of stress on learned behaviors and induce brain plasticity. It is unclear if modulation by environment can extend to innate behaviors which are preserved by intense selection pressure. In the present report we investigate this issue by studying effects of relatively short (14-days) environmental enrichment on two prominent innate behaviors in rats, avoidance of predator odors and ability of males to attract mates. We show that enrichment has strong effects on both the innate behaviors: a) enriched males were more avoidant of a predator odor than non-enriched controls, and had a greater rise in corticosterone levels in response to the odor; and b) had higher testosterone levels and were more attractive to females. Additionally, we demonstrate decrease in dendritic length of neurons of ventrolateral nucleus of hypothalamus, important for reproductive mate-choice and increase in the same in dorsomedial nucleus, important for defensive behavior. Thus, behavioral and hormonal observations provide evidence that a short period of environmental manipulation can alter innate behaviors, providing a good example of gene-environment interaction.PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(5):e36092. · 4.09 Impact Factor