The prevalence of cardiovascular diseases dramatically increases with age; therefore, striving to maintain a physiological heart function is particularly important. Our aim was to study the voluntary exercise-evoked cardioprotective effects in aged male and female rats, from genetic alterations to changes in heart performance. We divided 20-month-old female and male Wistar rats to control and running groups. After the 12-wk-long experimental period, echocardiographic measurements were performed. Afterwards, hearts were either removed for biochemical measurements or mounted into a Langendorff-perfusion system to detect infarct size. The following genes and their proteins were analyzed from heart: catechol-O-methyltransferase (Comt), endothelin-1 (Esm1), Purkinje cell protein-4 (Pcp4), and osteoglycin (Ogn). Recreational exercise caused functional improvements; however, changes were more prominent in males. Cardiac expression of Comt and Ogn was reduced as a result of exercise in aged males, whereas Pcp4 and Esm1 showed a marked overexpression, along with a markedly improved diastolic function. The key result of this study is that exercise enhanced the expression of the Pcp4 gene and protein, a recently described regulator of calcium balance in cardiomyocytes, and suppressed Comt and Ogn gene expression, which has been associated with impaired cardiac function. In addition, as a result of exercise, a significant improvement was observed in the size of infarct elicited by left anterior descending coronary artery occlusion. Our results clearly show that age and sex-dependent changes were both apparent in key proteins linked to cardiovascular physiology. Exercise-moderated fundamental genetic alterations may have contributed to the functional adaptation of the heart. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Voluntary exercise has proved to be an effective therapeutic tool to improve cardiac function in aged rats with clearly visible sex differences. Long-term exercise is associated with decreased Ogn and Comt expression and enhanced presence of Pcp4 and Esm1 genes. Sex-dependent changes were also observed in the expression of the cardiovascular key proteins. Fundamental alterations in gene and protein expression may contribute to the improvement of cardiac performance.
|Journal||American Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology|
|Publication status||Published - 2021 Feb|
- Gene expression
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Physiology (medical)