Recent work has suggested correlation of oxidative stress with anxiety-like behavior. There also is evidence for anxiolytic effects of physical exercise. However, a direct role of oxidative stress in anxiety is not clear and a protective role of physical exercise in oxidative stress-mediated anxiety has never been addressed. In this study, we have utilized rats to test direct involvement of oxidative stress with anxiety-like behavior and have identified oxidative stress mechanisms likely involved in anxiolytic effects of physical exercise. Intraperitoneal injections at non-toxic dose of l-buthionine-(S,R)-sulfoximine (BSO), an agent that increases oxidative stress markers, increased anxiety-like behavior of rats compared to vehicle-treated control rats. Prior 2 weeks treatment with the antioxidant, tempol attenuated BSO-induced anxiety-like behavior of rats suggesting a role of oxidative stress in this phenomenon. Moreover, moderate treadmill exercise prevented BSO-induced anxiety-like behavior of rats and also prevented BSO-mediated increase in oxidative stress markers in serum, urine and brain tissue homogenates from hippocampus, amygdala and locus coeruleus. Thus increasing oxidative stress increases anxiety-like behavior of rats. Moreover, antioxidant or treadmill exercise training both reduce oxidative stress in the rat brain regions implicated in anxiety response and prevent anxiety-like behavior of rats.
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