Aerobic Exercise Influences Parkinson’s Disease-Related Alterations in Cortico-Striatal Functional Connectivity

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Aerobic exercise during Parkinson's disease (PD) partially prevents the progression of motor symptoms that arise primarily as a result of dopamine depletion in the putamen. In human patients, PD has been associated with alterations in the coupling between the dopamine depleted putamen and sensorimotor cortex that may contribute to motor symptom progression. Studies involving animal models of PD indicate that aerobic exercise may in uence these alterations by enhancing neuroplasticity that strengthens basal ganglia circuitry involved in motor control. To investigate this, patients with PD were randomly assigned to aerobic exercise and active control interventions that lasted six months. Patients were scanned at rest with functional magnetic resonance imaging and motor symptom severity was assessed before and after intervention. Seed-based functional connectivity was used to characterize longitudinal changes in the coupling between sensorimotor cortex and subregions of the putamen. It was predicted that aerobic exercise would prevent a shift in the coupling of sensorimotor cortex from posterior to anterior putamen. Contrary to this prediction, it was found that aerobic exercise prevented a PD-related increase in coupling between sensorimotor cortex and the posterior putamen. The clinical relevance of this increase is unclear, however, as aerobic exercise did not lead to improvements in motor symptom progression. In conclusion, this study demonstrates that PDrelated alterations in the coupling between sensorimotor cortex and putamen can be in uenced by aerobic exercise. Further research is required in order to establish how this in uence can be taken advantage of in a clinical setting.
Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen