[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent findings have suggested that aerobic exercise may have a positive effect on brain functioning, in addition to its well-recognized beneficial effects on human physiology. This study confirmed the cognitive effects of aerobic exercise on the human brain. It also examined the relationships between exercise and the serum levels of neurotrophic factors (BDNF, IGI-1, and VEGF). A total of 91 healthy teens who exercised regularly participated in this study. A between-group design was adopted to compare cognitive functioning subserved by the frontal and temporal brain regions and the serum levels of neurotrophic factors between 45 regular exercisers and 46 matched controls. The exercisers performed significantly better than the controls on the frontal and temporal functioning parameters measured. This beneficial cognitive effect was region-specific because no such positive cognitive effect on task-tapping occipital functioning was observed. With respect to the serum levels of the neurotrophic factors, a negative correlation between neurotrophic factors (BDNF and VEGF) with frontal and medial-temporal lobe function was revealed. Furthermore, the levels of BDNF and VEGF interacted with exercise status in predicting frontal and temporal lobe function. This is the first report of the interaction effects of exercise and neurotrophic factors on cognitive functioning. Herein, we report preliminary evidence of the beneficial effects of regular aerobic exercise in improving cognitive functions in teens. These beneficial effects are region-specific and are associated with the serum levels of neurotrophic factors. Our findings lay the path for future studies looking at ways to translate these beneficial effects to therapeutic strategies for adolescents.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Lycium barbarum, commonly known as wolfberry, has been used as a traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of infertility and sexual dysfunction. However, there is still a scarcity of experimental evidence to support the pro-sexual effect of wolfberry. The aim of this study is to determine the effect of Lycium barbarum polysaccharides (LBP) on male sexual behavior of rats. Here we report that oral feeding of LBP for 21 days significantly improved the male copulatory performance including increase of copulatory efficiency, increase of ejaculation frequency and shortening of ejaculation latency. Furthermore, sexual inhibition caused by chronic corticosterone was prevented by LBP. Simultaneously, corticosterone suppressed neurogenesis in subventricular zone and hippocampus in adult rats, which could be reversed by LBP. The neurogenic effect of LBP was also shown in vitro. Significant correlation was found between neurogenesis and sexual performance, suggesting that the newborn neurons are associated with reproductive successfulness. Blocking neurogenesis in male rats abolished the pro-sexual effect of LBP. Taken together, these results demonstrate the pro-sexual effect of LBP on normal and sexually-inhibited rats, and LBP may modulate sexual behavior by regulating neurogenesis.
PLoS ONE 04/2012; 7(4):e33374. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0033374 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Intermediate level of stress is beneficial for brain functions, whereas extreme low level or high level of stress is deleterious. We have previously shown that chronic exposure to high doses of corticosterone (CORT) suppressed hippocampal plasticity and physical exercise in terms of running counteracted the detrimental effects of CORT treatment. We aimed to study whether a mild stress, that mimicked by a treatment with low CORT dose, improved hippocampal plasticity in terms of hippocampal cell proliferation and dendritic remodeling, and to examine whether running with CORT treatment showed an additive effect on improving hippocampal plasticity. The rats were treated with 20 mg/kg CORT for 14 days with or without running, followed by Morris water maze test or forced swim test. The hippocampal proliferating cells was labeled by intraperitoneal injection of 5-bromo-2’-deoxyuridine. The dendritic morphology was analyzed using Golgi staining method. Treatment with 20 mg/kg CORT alone yielded a higher number of hippocampal cell proliferation and significantly increased dendritic branching compared to vehicle-treated non-runners, but had no behavioral effects. In contrast, CORT treatment with running showed an additive increase in hippocampal cell proliferation and dendritic remodeling that was associated with improved spatial learning and decreased depression-like behavior; however, there was no additive improvement in behavior compared to vehicle-treated runners. These findings suggest that mild stress does not always cause detrimental effect on the brain, and combining mild stress with running could promote hippocampal plasticity via inducing cell proliferation and dendritic remodeling.