Vol 24, No 1 (2017)
Original articles — Basic science and experimental cardiology
Published online: 2016-09-23

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Swimming exercise reverses aging-related contractile abnormalities of female heart by improving structural alterations

Nihal Ozturk, Yusuf Olgar, Hakan Er, Murathan Kucuk, Semir Ozdemir
Pubmed: 27665854
Cardiol J 2017;24(1):85-93.


Background: The objective of this study was to examine the effect of swimming exercise on aging-related Ca2+ handling alterations and structural abnormalities of female rat heart.

Methods: For this purpose, 4-month and 24-month old female rats were used and divided into three following groups: sedentary young (SY), sedentary old (SO), and exercised old (Ex-O). Swimming exercise was performed for 8 weeks (60 min/day, 5 days/week). Myocyte shortening, L-type Ca2+ currents and associated Ca2+ transients were measured from ventricular myocytes at 36 ± 1°C. NOX-4 levels, aconitase activity, glutathione measurements and ultrastructural examination by electron microscopy were conducted in heart tissue.

Results: Swimming exercise reversed the reduced shortening and slowed kinetics of aged cardiomyocytes. Although the current density was similar for all groups, Ca2+ transients were higher in SO and Ex-O myocytes with respect to the SY group. Caffeine-induced Ca2+ transients and the integrated NCX current were lower in cardiomyocytes of SY rats compared with other groups, suggesting an increased sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ content in an aged heart. Aging led to upregulated cardiac NOX-4 along with declined aconitase activity. Although it did not reverse these oxidative parameters, swimming exercise achieved a significant increase in glutathione levels and improved structural alterations of old rats’ hearts.

Conclusions: We conclude that swimming exercise upregulates antioxidant defense capacity and improves structural abnormalities of senescent female rat heart, although it does not change Ca2+ handling alterations further. Thereby, it improves contractile function of aged myocardium by mitigating detrimental effects of oxidative stress.

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