Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Biological Science

First Committee Member

Frank van Breukelen

Second Committee Member

Michelle Elekonich

Third Committee Member

Andrew Andres

Fourth Committee Member

Jefferson Kinney

Fifth Committee Member

Daniel Allen

Number of Pages



Outside of finding a cure, one of the preeminent goals of research in Parkinson's disease (PD) is finding a neuroprotective treatment that when applied prior to the onset of the disease will decrease the risk and severity of the subsequent disease. One such treatment that has potential as a neuroprotective agent in PD is exercise. Several studies have found forced exercise to be protective of Parkinson's disease in adult rodent models; however, few of these studies have used a design wherein voluntary exercise was evaluated. Moreover, no study has used a true neuroprotective design in which exercise was applied prior to disease onset and throughout the life of the animal. Therefore, the focus of this dissertation was to further explore the role of a preconditioning of exercise, both forced and voluntary, in a 6-hydroxydopamine-induced hemiparkinsonian rat model. The research approach adopted in this dissertation included a randomized control design of forced and voluntary exercise (i.e., treadmill and running wheel) applied before and after neurotoxin-induced hemiparkinsonism. Motor behavior tests were used to assess the outcomes. The findings from this dissertation provide evidence that exercise, either forced or voluntary, does not provide any neuroprotective benefit in terms of protection from Parkinsonian motor signs and forelimb asymmetry. The collective results of this dissertation cast doubt on the current body of the literature on exercise neuroprotection in PD and suggest that the notion that exercise is neuroprotective is premature.


Exercise; Forced exercise; Neuroplasticity; Neuroprotection; Parkinson's disease – Treatment; Voluntary exercise


Biology | Exercise Science | Motor Control | Neurology | Neurosciences | Physiology

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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