Indexed on: 01 Jul '08Published on: 01 Jul '08Published in: Brain Research
The aim of the present study was to investigate whether treadmill locomotor training could have beneficial effects on deficits consequent to perinatal anoxia, sensorimotor restriction or a combination of both. Fifty-six newborn male Wistar rats were divided into four groups: control, anoxic, sensorimotor-restricted and anoxic-sensorimotor-restricted. Rats were exposed to anoxia in the first two postnatal days (P0 and P1) and/or hind-limb sensorimotor restriction from P2 to P28 for 16 h/day. Control and experimental rats underwent treadmill training for three weeks (from P31 to P52). Body weight and walking patterns (stride length and foot angle) were measured weekly during treadmill locomotor training. Soleus muscle cross-sectional mean area and fiber density were measured using planar morphometry. Anoxia per se did not cause gait or muscle deficits. Body weight, stride length and soleus fiber cross-sectional mean area, however, were increased in trained anoxic rats. Sensorimotor-restricted animals, either with or without perinatal anoxia, showed deficits in body weight gain, decreased stride length, wider foot angle and soleus fiber atrophy. In the sensorimotor-restricted group, treadmill training improved body weight gain and stride length, and decreased the percentage of the atrophic fibers. However, in the anoxic-sensorimotor-restricted group, training improved stride length only. Three weeks of treadmill training were able to improve stride length in restricted and anoxic-restricted animals, although body weight deficit and the degree of degradation in muscle histology were reduced only in the restricted group.