Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



Biological Sciences

First Advisor

John Spitsbergen

Second Advisor

Emile Van Meter

Third Advisor

Ashleigh Watson


Heart failure (HF) is a dramatic consequence arising from cardiovascular dysfunction such as hypertension, and one in which can affect other organs such as the brain and its protective barrier, the blood-brain barrier (BBB). Exercise has been shown to be an effective way of normalizing the disruption of the BBB accompanying this disease. Through this research, the effects of moderate aerobic exercise on the BBB of sedentary (S) and trained (T) HF rats were studied. Wistar rats were either subjected to an anterior descending left coronary artery ligation or a Sham surgery to simulate the ligation. After being assigned to the sedentary versus trained group, the rats were given a 6-week exercise protocol. Hemodynamic variables and ventricular function were measured and their brains were collected for the acquisition of images by fluorescence microscopy of the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVN). Prior to imaging acquisition, the rats were subjected to an intravascular injection of dyes for the analysis of the extent of BBB permeability. HF-S versus SHAM-S revealed decreased exercise capacity, smaller inotropism (+dP/dT) and lusitropism (-dP/dT), increased heart and lung weight, a higher left ventricular end diastolic pressure (LVEDP), as well as an increased BBB permeability. However, exercise was observed to cause opposite effects in the HF-T rats, as it increased their treadmill performance, reduced the weight of their heart and lungs, improved inotropy and normalized the BBB permeability of these rats back to normal.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Restricted