Abstract

We recently reported that exercise increases resilience to stress in young female mice. Underlying mechanisms include an interaction of the ovarian hormone estradiol (E2) with insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I), and an increase in the hippocampal levels of the latter. Since changes in mood regulation during aging may contribute to increasing incidence of affective disorders at older age, we determined whether the protective actions of exercise are maintained at later ages. We found that during peri-menopause, exercise no longer improves resilience to stress and even becomes anxiogenic. Furthermore, the interaction seen in young females between the E2 α receptor (ERα) and the IGF-I receptor (IGF-IR) is lost at middle-age. In addition, E2 no longer induces IGF-I uptake by brain endothelial cells, and consequently, hippocampal IGF-I levels do not increase. Treatment of middle-aged females with an ERα agonist did not recover the positive actions of exercise. Collectively, these data indicate that the loss of action of exercise during peri-menopause may be related to a loss of the interaction of IGF-IR with ERα in brain endothelial cells that cannot be ameliorated by estrogen therapy. Changes in regulation of mood by physical activity may contribute to increased appearance of affective disorders along age.