Exercise your body, optimize your brain: Effect of exercise on neutotrophic factors in humans

Publikation: Buch/BerichtWissenschaftliche Schrift zur Erlangung der Lehrberechtigung an Hochschulen und Universitäten.


The generation of new neurons occurs continuously in the hippocampus and lateral ventricles in adult human brain. It is hypothesized that the proliferation and differentiation of adult neural stem cells at these two locations are due to their permissive microenviroments that may have spefic neurotrophic factors to support neurogenesis. It is known that neurogenesis declines with aging, however, it can be restored to a certain extent by voluntary exercise. In the context of these findings we assessed a variety of peripheral neurotrophic factors like BDNF, IGF-1 and VEGF following acute exercise challenges in humans. Different acute exercise challenges were performed: incremental submaximal and maximal cycle exercise, low and high intensity strength exercise, hand-biking. The subjects included healthy young men, pregnant/non pregnant women, spinal cord injured males and recreational sportsmen.
A transient increase of serum BDNF concentrations was found in pregnant/non pregnant women, healthy young men and disabled subjects following an acute aerobic exercise bout. Moderate to high endurance exercise induces increases in neurotrophins while endurance exercise of low intensity does not influence the concentration of BDNF.
IGF-1 increased in a sustained manner after endurance exercise and after acute bouts of strength exercise in women, healthy young people, disabled males, and young sportsmen, respectively. Strength exercise of low or high intensity induces a strong increase of IGF-1.
Except for pregnant women, acute aerobic exercise challenges have effect on VEGF concentrations. In comparision with acute endurance exercise strength exercise does not elicit increases in VEGF in recreational sportsmen.
The data indicates that in humans undergoing exercise challenges neurotrophic factors, which are known to function as central regulators of neurogenesis, increase in a transient way (Rojas Vega et al., 2006a,b, 2008, 2010,2011, 2012). The response to this extrinsic stimuli suggests that exercise may be beneficial for the brain health.
VerlagDeutsche Sporthochschule Köln
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 2016