In rodents, the disruption of social-rearing conditions before normal weaning induces emotional behavioral abnormalities, such as anxiety, motor activity dysregulation, and stress vulnerability. The beneficial effects of exercise after normal weaning on emotional regulation have been well documented. However, effects of exercise before normal weaning on emotion have not been reported. We examined whether voluntary wheel running (R) during social isolation after early weaning (early weaning/isolation; EI) from postnatal day (PD) 14-30 could prevent EI-induced emotional behavioral abnormalities in Sprague-Dawley rats. Compared with control rats reared with their dam and siblings until PD30, rats performed R during EI (EI. +. R) and EI rats demonstrated greater locomotion and lower grooming activity in the open-field test (OFT) during the juvenile period. Juvenile EI. ±. R rats showed greater learned helplessness (LH) after exposure to inescapable stress (IS; electric foot shock) than IS-exposed control and EI rats. In contrast, EI rats showed increased locomotion in the OFT and LH after exposure to IS compared with control rats during adulthood; this was not observed in EI. ±. R rats. Both EI and EI. ±. R rats exhibited greater rearing activity in the OFT than controls during adulthood. EI did not increase anxiety in the OFT and elevated plus-maze. These results suggested that R during EI until normal weaning prevented some of the EI-induced behavioral abnormalities, including hyperlocomotor activity and greater LH, during adulthood but not in the juvenile period.
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