2020 Undergraduate Research Showcase


The Effects of Exercise on a TgF344-AD Rat Model of Alzheimer’s Disease

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Stephanie Hall


Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) accounts for over two thirds of dementia cases and results in severe life impairement.1 At diagnosis, AD is characterized by an accumulation of amyloid plaques, intracellular neurofibrillary tangles, and significant neuronal loss.2 Medications aimed at treating advanced AD have failed, .1 however, a multi-year pre-clinical stage of AD has emerged that may become to focus of future treatments. This pre-clinical stage of AD has been associated with reduced lean mass, muscle strength, and hippocampal volume.3-5 Aerobic exercise has been linked to attenuation of hippocampal atrophy, and selective neurogenesis in adults.5 To best understand the mechanisms of exercise protection, an animal model of AD must be utilized. Purpose: To establish a timeline of behavioral changes (memory, strength, coordination) at middle age and determine the effect of exercise in an animal model of AD (TgF344-AD). Method: TgF344-AD rats where sedentary or treadmill trained from 12-14 months of age and completed memory, strength, and coordination tests each month. Results: While no statistical significance was found in memory, strength, or coordination, a trend toward exercise-induced protection is present. Conclusions: As animals age and AD progresses, impairments are likely in memory, strength, and coordination and exercise-induced protection is expected to become more prevalent.


  1. Huang, L.-K., Chao, S.-P., & Hu, C.-J. (2020). Clinical trials of new drugs for Alzheimer disease. Journal of Biomedical Science, 27(1), 1–13. https://doi-org.libproxy.boisestate.edu/10.1186/s12929-019-0609-7
  2. Do Carmo, S., & Cuello, A. C. (2013). Modeling Alzheimer’s disease in transgenic rats. Molecular Neurodegeneration, 8(1), 1–23. https://doi-org.libproxy.boisestate.edu/10.1186/1750-1326-8-37
  3. Boyle, P.A., Buchman, A.S., Wilson, R.S., Leurgans, S.E., & Bennett, D.A. (2009). Association of muscle strength with the risk of Alzheimer disease and the rate of cognitive decline in community-dwelling older persons. Arch Neurol., 66(11), 1339–1344. doi:10.1001/archneurol.2009.240
  4. Burns, J. M., Johnson, D. K., Watts, A., Swerdlow, R. H., & Brooks, W. M. (2010). Reduced lean mass in early Alzheimer’s Disease and its association with brain atrophy. Archives of Neurology, 67(4), 428-433. https://apps-webofknowledge-com.libproxy.boisestate.edu/full_record.do?product=WOS&search_mode=GeneralSearch&qid=1&SID=8BJYHTATCFZ2VOK3uAI&page=1&doc=4
  5. Erickson, K. I., Voss, M. W., Prakash, R. S., Basak, C., Szabo, A., Chaddock, L., Kim, J. S., Susie Heo, Alves, H., White, S. M., Wojcicki, T. R., Mailey, E., Vieira, V. J., Martin, S. A., Pence, B. D., Woods, J. A., McAuley, E., & Kramer, A. F. (2011). Exercise training increases size of hippocampus and improves memory. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108(7), 3017–3022. https://doi-org.libproxy.boisestate.edu/10.1073/pnas.1015950108

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