• Neuroprotective Effects of Physical Activity via the Adaptation of Astrocytes

      Maugeri, Grazia; D'Agata, Velia; Magri, Benedetta; Roggio, Federico; Castorina, Alessandro; Ravalli, Silvia; Di Rosa, Michelino; Musumeci, Giuseppe; Musumeci|0000-0002-8260-8890 (2021-06-18)
      The multifold benefits of regular physical exercise have been largely demonstrated in human and animal models. Several studies have reported the beneficial effects of physical activity, both in peripheral tissues and in the central nervous system (CNS). Regular exercise improves cognition, brain plasticity, neurogenesis and reduces the symptoms of neurodegenerative diseases, making timeless the principle of “mens sana in corpore sano” (i.e., a healthy mind in a healthy body). Physical exercise promotes morphological and functional changes in the brain, acting not only in neurons but also in astrocytes, which represent the most numerous glial cells in the brain. The multiple effects of exercise on astrocytes comprise the increased number of new astrocytes, the maintenance of basal levels of catecholamine, the increase in glutamate uptake, the major release of trophic factors and better astrocytic coverage of cerebral blood vessels. The purpose of this review is to highlight the effects of exercise on brain function, emphasize the role of astrocytes in the healthy CNS, and provide an update for a better understanding of the effects of physical exercise in the modulation of astrocyte function.