Activation of the Nrf2-antioxidant response element signaling pathway is a major mechanism in the cellular defense against oxidative or electrophilic stress through conjugative reactions and by enhancing cellular antioxidant capacity. Although exercise training up-regulates antioxidant defenses system, while information regarding the intensity levels of physical exercise that acts on the cellular protection systems is limited.Main methods:
The present study evaluated the effects of different durations and intensities of physical exercise on the hippocampus, cortex and hypothalamus Nrf2 and HO-1 gene expression and related protein content and the nociception thresholds in adult C57Bl male mice. Exercise training consisted of daily running on a 10-lane rodent motor-driven treadmill for either 3 or 7 weeks at three different intensities. Pain responses were evaluated after exercise and in untrained mice by Von Frey hair test and cold plate test.Key findings:
This study confirmed that only vigorous and longer duration aerobic exercise increased Nrf2 protein level in the hippocampus and HO-1 protein level in the cortex and reduced pain perception. Mechanical and thermal hypoalgesia were only observed in exercise groups after 7 weeks of physical training.Significance:
The overall findings in this study confirm that only the long duration intensive forced exercise reduced inflammatory pain by induction of Nrf2/HO-1 antioxidant signaling pathway.