Publications & Posters

Lifelong voluntary aerobic exercise prevents age- and Western diet- induced vascular dysfunction, mitochondrial oxidative stress and inflammation in mice

The Journal of Physiology | October 25, 2020

Gioscia-Ryan RA, Clayton ZS, Zigler MC, Richey JJ, Cuevas LM, Rossman MJ, Battson ML, Ziemba BP, Hutton DA, VanDongen NS and Seals DR

The Journal of physiology. 2021;599:911-925

DOI: 10.1113/JP280607


Advancing age is the major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, driven largely by vascular endothelial dysfunction (impaired endothelium-dependent dilatation, EDD) and aortic stiffening (increased aortic pulse wave velocity, aPWV). In humans, vascular ageing occurs in the presence of differences in diet and physical activity, but the interactive effects of these factors are unknown. We assessed carotid artery EDD and aPWV across the lifespan in mice consuming standard (normal) low-fat chow (NC) or a high-fat/high-sucrose Western diet (WD) in the absence (sedentary, SED) or presence (voluntary wheel running, VWR) of aerobic exercise. Ageing impaired nitric oxide-mediated EDD (peak EDD 88 ± 12% 6 months P = 0.003 vs. 59 ± 9% 27 months NC-SED), which was accelerated by WD (60 ± 18% 6 months WD-SED). In NC mice, aPWV increased 32% with age (423 ± 13 cm/s at 24 months P < 0.001 vs. 321 ± 12 cm/s at 6 months) and absolute values were an additional ∼10% higher at any age in WD mice (P = 0.042 vs. NC-SED). Increases in aPWV with age in NC and WD mice were associated with 30–65% increases in aortic intrinsic wall stiffness (6 vs. 19–27 months, P = 0.007). Lifelong aerobic exercise prevented age- and WD-related vascular dysfunction across the lifespan, and this protection appeared to be mediated by mitigation of vascular mitochondrial oxidative stress and inflammation. Our results depict the temporal impairment of vascular function over the lifespan in mice, acceleration and exacerbation of that dysfunction with WD consumption, the remarkable protective effects of voluntary aerobic exercise, and the underlying mechanisms.