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Exercise increases brain growth factor and receptors, prevents stem cell drop in middle age
Date:11/17/2008

encourage new neural cell growth but which decrease with age -- account for the drop in neurogenesis. Specifically, the study looked at whether a decrease in brain-derived neurotrophic growth factor leads to a decline in new neural stem cells.

Variables studied

The researchers trained young (3 months), adult (7 months), early middle-aged (9 months), middle-aged (13 months) and old (24 months) mice to run a treadmill for up to one hour a day.

The study tracked neurogenesis, age, exercise, serum corticosterone levels and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and its receptor TrkB levels in the hippocampus. The researchers focused on middle age as a critical stage for the decline of neurogenesis in the mice.

As expected, the study found that neurogenesis drops off sharply in middle-aged mice. For example, the number of neural progenitor and mitotic (dividing) cells in the hippocampus of middle-aged mice was only 5% of that observed in the young mice.

The researchers also found that exercise significantly slows down the loss of new nerve cells in the middle-aged mice. They found that production of neural stem cells improved by approximately 200% compared to the middle-aged mice that did not exercise. In addition, the survival of new nerve cells increased by 170% and growth by 190% compared to the sedentary middle-aged mice. Exercise also significantly enhanced stem cell production and maturation in the young mice. In fact, exercise produced a stronger effect in younger mice compared to the older mice.

How does this happen?

Based on these results, it appears that nerve growth factor has more to do with these findings than the corticosterone:

  • The middle-aged exercisers had more brain-derived neurotrophic factor and its receptor, TrkB, compared to the middle-aged mice that did not exercise. This suggests that exercise promotes the production of brain-derived neurotrophic fac
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Contact: Christine Guilfoy
cguilfoy@the-aps.org
301-634-7253
American Physiological Society
Source:Eurekalert

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