Association between exercise habits and subcortical gray matter volumes in healthy elderly people: A population-based study in Japan.
eNeurologicalSci. 2017 Jun ;7:1-6. Epub 2017 Mar 6. PMID: 29260016
Background and aims: The relationship between exercise and subcortical gray matter volume is not well understood in the elderly population, although reports indicate that exercise may prevent cortical gray matter atrophy. To elucidate this association in the elderly, we measured subcortical gray matter volume and correlated this with volumes to exercise habits in a community-based cohort study in Japan.
Methods: Subjects without mild cognitive impairment or dementia (n = 280, 35% male, mean age 73.1 ± 5.9 years) were evaluated using the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), an exercise habit questionnaire, and brain magnetic resonance imaging. Subcortical gray matter volume was compared between groups based on the presence/absence of exercise habits. The MMSE was re-administered 3 years after the baseline examination.
Results: Ninety-one subjects (32.5%) reported exercise habits (exercise group), and 189 subjects (67.5%) reported no exercise habits (non-exercise group). Volumetric analysis revealed that the volumes in the exercise group were greater in the left hippocampus (p = 0.042) and bilateral nucleus accumbens (left, p = 0.047; right, p = 0.007) compared to those of the non-exercise group. Among the 195 subjects who received a follow-up MMSE examination, the normalized intra-cranial volumes of the left nucleus accumbens (p = 0.004) and right amygdala (p = 0.014)showed significant association with a decline in the follow-up MMSE score.
Conclusion: Subjects with exercise habits show larger subcortical gray matter volumes than subjects without exercise habits in community-dwelling elderly subjects in Japan. Specifically, the volume of the nucleus accumbens correlates with both exercise habits and cognitive preservation.