S. GRIESBACH, D. A. HOVDA, F. GOMEZ-PINILLA, and R. L. SUTTON
Prior work has shown that d-amphetamine (AMPH) treatment or voluntary exercise improves cognitive functions after traumatic brain injury (TBI). In addition, voluntary exercise increases levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). The current study was conducted to determine how AMPH and exercise treatments, either alone or in combination, affect molecular events that may underlie recovery following controlled cortical impact (CCI) injury in rats. We also determined if these treatments reduced injury-induced oxidative stress. Following a CCI or sham injury, rats received AMPH (1 mg/kg/day) or saline treatment via an ALZET® pump and were housed with or without access to a running wheel for 7 days. CCI rats ran significantly less than sham controls, but exercise level was not altered by drug treatment. On day 7 the hippocampus ipsilateral to injury was harvested and BDNF, synapsin I and phosphorylated (P) -synapsin I proteins were quantified. Exercise or AMPH alone significantly increased BDNF protein in sham and CCI rats, but this effect was lost with the combined treatment. In sham-injured rats synapsin I increased significantly after AMPH or exercise, but did not increase after combined treatment. Synapsin levels, including the P-synapsin/total synapsin ratio, were reduced from sham controls in the saline-treated CCI groups, with or without exercise. AMPH treatment significantly increased the P-synapsin/total synapsin ratio after CCI, an effect that was attenuated by combining AMPH with exercise. Exercise or AMPH treatment alone significantly decreased hippocampal carbonyl groups on oxidized proteins in the CCI rats, compared with saline-treated sedentary counterparts, but this reduction in a marker of oxidative stress was not found with the combination of exercise and AMPH treatment. These results indicate that, whereas exercise or AMPH treatment alone may induce plasticity and reduce oxidative stress after TBI, combining these treatments may cancel each other’s therapeutic effects.