Endurance training enhances BDNF release from the human brain

Thomas Seifert, Patrice Brassard, Mads Wissenberg, Peter Rasmussen, Pernille Nordby, Bente Stallknecht, Helle Adser, Anne Hviid Jakobsen, Henriette Pilegaard, Henning Nielsen, Niels Secher

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Seifert T, Brassard P, Wissenberg M, Rasmussen P, Nordby P, Stallknecht B, Adser H, Jakobsen AH, Pilegaard H, Nielsen HB, Secher NH. Endurance training enhances BDNF release from the human brain. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 298: R372-R377, 2010. First published November 18, 2009; doi:10.1152/ajpregu.00525.2009.-The circulating level of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is reduced in patients with major depression and type-2 diabetes. Because acute exercise increases BDNF production in the hippocampus and cerebral cortex, we hypothesized that endurance training would enhance the release of BDNF from the human brain as detected from arterial and internal jugular venous blood samples. In a randomized controlled study, 12 healthy sedentary males carried out 3 mo of endurance training (n = 7) or served as controls (n = 5). Before and after the intervention, blood samples were obtained at rest and during exercise. At baseline, the training group (58 +/- 106 ng.100 g(-1).min(-1), means +/- SD) and the control group (12 +/- 17 ng.100 g(-1).min(-1)) had a similar release of BDNF from the brain at rest. Three months of endurance training enhanced the resting release of BDNF to 206 +/- 108 ng.100 g(-1).min(-1) (P <0.05), with no significant change in the control subjects, but there was no training-induced increase in the release of BDNF during exercise. Additionally, eight mice completed a 5-wk treadmill running training protocol that increased the BDNF mRNA expression in the hippocampus (4.5 +/- 1.6 vs. 1.4 +/- 1.1 mRNA/ssDNA; P <0.05), but not in the cerebral cortex (4.0 +/- 1.4 vs. 4.6 +/- 1.4 mRNA/ssDNA) compared with untrained mice. The increased BDNF expression in the hippocampus and the enhanced release of BDNF from the human brain following training suggest that endurance training promotes brain health.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)R372-R377
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Primates Mammalia Vertebrata Chordata Animalia (Animals, Chordates, Humans, Mammals, Primates, Vertebrates) - Hominidae [86215] human common adult male
  • Rodentia Mammalia Vertebrata Chordata Animalia (Animals, Chordates, Mammals, Nonhuman Vertebrates, Nonhuman Mammals, Rodents, Vertebrates) - Muridae [86375] mouse common
  • human BDNF gene [Hominidae] expression
  • brain-derived neurotrophic factor BDNF production
  • messenger RNA mRNA expression
  • 03502, Genetics - General
  • 03506, Genetics - Animal
  • 03508, Genetics - Human
  • 07004, Behavioral biology - Human behavior
  • 10062, Biochemistry studies - Nucleic acids, purines and pyrimidines
  • 10064, Biochemistry studies - Proteins, peptides and amino acids
  • 13020, Metabolism - Metabolic disorders
  • 17008, Endocrine - Pancreas
  • 17020, Endocrine - Neuroendocrinology
  • 20504, Nervous system - Physiology and biochemistry
  • 21002, Psychiatry - Psychopathology, psychodynamics and therapy
  • Molecular Genetics
  • Nervous System
  • major depression Depression (MeSH) behavioral and mental disorders
  • type-2 diabetes Diabetes Mellitus, Non-Insulin-Dependent (MeSH) endocrine disease/pancreas, metabolic disease
  • arterial venous blood sample
  • endurance training
  • jugular venous blood sample
  • treadmill running training protocol
  • Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics
  • Neural Coordination
  • brain nervous system
  • cerebral cortex nervous system
  • hippocampus nervous system


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