Neuroprotective Effects of Exercise on Binge Alcohol-Induced Brain Damage


Binge alcohol damages the brain. Exercise is known to enhance brain health, and we have previously shown that exercise counteracts binge alcohol damage. The present study investigates possible mechanisms, including increased exerkines (peripherally-derived factors that sustain the brain), decreased stress hormone (cort) output, and decreased neuroimmune response to binge alcohol. Rats were given a single dose of alcohol (5 g/kg or isocaloric control diet) once per week for five weeks. Half of the animals exercised, and half remained sedentary. Homecage behavior was recorded the morning after each alcohol dose. After 5 weeks, brain tissue and blood-borne factors were assessed. We found that exercise significantly increased body weight in males but not females, and overall, binged animals ran less than control animals. There were no effects of exercise on alcohol-induced cort output or levels of adiponectin (an exerkine). Binge alcohol increased, and exercise decreased neuroimmune response. Home cage behavior analysis showed that binged rats spent less time grooming than controls, and exercise eliminated this effect. Home cage binge animals grooming less than control suggesting a state of malaise. In conclusion, exercise buffers the effects of binge alcohol, both neurally and behaviorally. Ongoing studies continue to probe potential mechanisms, including the contribution of additional exerkines and analysis of gene transcription changes induced by binge alcohol and/or exercise.