Treadmill exercise attenuates 3,4‐methylenedioxymethamphetamine‐induced memory impairment through a decrease apoptosis in male rat hippocampus

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Administration of 3,4‐methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) or ecstasy affects the serotonin system (Parrott, 2002; Puerta et al., 2012) in the hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex, which are important structures known to be involved in learning and memory (Bergstrom and Pinard, 2017).
A number of researchers stated that MDMA affected behavior and caused memory impairment both in humans and animals (Shariati et al., 2014a; Wagner et al., 2015). Downey et al. (2015) reported that recreational ecstasy resulted in significant memory impairments in users. Our previously published studies have demonstrated that MDMA could impair learning and memory in adult male rats (Shariati et al., 2014b; Soleimani Asl et al., 2011). The hippocampus is one of the most important areas of the brain involved in learning and memory. Several lines of evidence suggest a link between MDMAinduced memory impairment and hippocampal dysfunction (Jacobsen et al., 2004; Riezzo et al., 2010; Soleimani Asl et al., 2012). We have reported that MDMA treatment caused spatial memory impairment and apoptosis in the hippocampi of both male and female Sprague‐Dawley rats (Soleimani Asl et al., 2015a). Apoptosis in the hippocampus leads to changes in learning and memory (Egashira et al., 2010).
Oxidative stress has been observed following MDMA treatment and it seems to play a critical role in MDMA pathogenesis (Parolini et al., 2016). Numerous novel therapeutic strategies are considered to improve cognitive damage (Alipanahzadeh et al., 2014; Ghahremanitamadon et al., 2014; Shah et al., 2016). Studies show that physical activity supports brain health and ameliorates neurological impairment by impeding neuronal loss in neurodegenerative disorders (Baek et al., 2012; Kim et al., 2015; Lee et al., 2015).
Choi et al. (2016) reported that treadmill exercise in a rat model of vascular dementia improved spatial memory and increased the number of neuronal progenitor cells in the hippocampus. In another study, preconditioning exercise ameliorated motor function, reduced neuronal apoptosis, and increased angiogenesis and astrocyte proliferation in rats (Otsuka et al., 2016).
Numerous studies have reported the beneficial effects of long‐term and regular exercise on antioxidant activity, and reduction of the peroxidation levels of lipids and proteins in the rat brain (Navarro et al., 2004; Radak et al., 2016).
Apoptosis and oxidative stress play an essential role in MDMA pathogenesis and exercise can enhance antioxidant activity and inhibit apoptotic activity. Therefore, this study investigates the effects of treadmill exercise on memory impairment following MDMA administration. We have also sought to determine whether treadmill exercise can alleviate MDMA‐induced oxidative stress and apoptosis in the hippocampi of rats.
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