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This study was designed to compare the effects of high-intensity interval training (HIT) and moderate-intensity aerobic training (MOD) on functional recovery and cerebral plasticity during the first 2 weeks after cerebral ischemia.Rats were randomized as follows: control (n=15), SHAM (n=9), middle cerebral artery occlusion (n=13), middle cerebral artery occlusion at day 1 (n=7), MOD (n=13), and HIT (n=13). Incremental tests were performed at day 1 (D1) and 14 (D14) to identify the running speed associated with the lactate threshold (SLT) and the maximal speed (Smax). Functional tests were performed at D1, D7, and D14. Microglia form, cytokines, p75NTR (pan-neurotrophin receptor p75), potassium–chloride cotransporter type 2, and sodium–potassium–chloride cotransporter type 1 expression were made at D15.HIT was more effective to improve the endurance performance than MOD and induced a fast recovery of the impaired forelimb grip force. The ionized calcium binding adaptor molecule 1 (Iba-1)–positive cells with amoeboid form and the pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokine expression were lower in HIT group, mainly in the ipsilesional hemisphere. A p75NTR overexpression is observed on the ipsilesional side together with a restored sodium–potassium–chloride cotransporter type 1/potassium–chloride cotransporter type 2 ratio on the contralesional side.Low-volume HIT based on lactate threshold seems to be more effective after cerebral ischemia than work-matched MOD to improve aerobic fitness and grip strength and might promote cerebral plasticity.