The rational basis that explains the benefits of exercise therapy on Chagas cardiomyopathy (ChC) is poorly understood. This study investigated the impact of an exercise program on exercise performance, heart parasitism, immunoinflammatory response, fibrogenesis, oxidative damage, and cardiomyocytes contractility in experimental ChC.Main methods:
Wistar rats were subjected to a 9-week treadmill running training and challenged with Trypanosoma cruzi. Control animals remained sedentary. Physical and metabolic performance, cardiac morphology, cytokines, chemokines, nitric oxide, oxidative tissue damage, cardiomyocyte morphology and contractility were analyzed.Key findings:
Exercise training was efficient to improve physical performance and anaerobic threshold in trained animals. By increasing cardiac and serum levels of cytokines (TNF-α, IFN-γ, and IL-6), chemokines (MCP-1 and CX3CL1), the myocardial activity catalase and superoxide dismutase, and reducing lipid and protein oxidation in cardiac tissue, exercise training seem to be a beneficial strategy to mitigate the progression and severity of Chagas-associated cardiomyopathy.Significance:
The protective adaptations to the host triggered by exercise training contributed to reduce cardiac parasitism, inflammation, fibrosis and cardiomyocytes atrophy. Although exercise training does not affect nitric oxide levels in cardiac tissue from infected animals, this strategy enhanced the efficiency of endogenous antioxidant mechanisms, restricting oxidative tissue damage with positive repercussions to cardiomyocytes biomechanics in rats.