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Neurorehabil Neural Repair. 2014 Feb;28(2):163-8. doi: 10.1177/1545968313508474. Epub 2013 Nov 8.

Intensive rehabilitation increases BDNF serum levels in parkinsonian patients: a randomized study.

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1"Moriggia-Pelascini" Hospital, Gravedona ed Uniti, Italy.



Exercise may decrease the risk of Parkinson's disease (PD) in humans and reduce PD symptoms in animal models. The beneficial effects have been linked to increased levels of neurotrophic factors.


We examined whether intensive rehabilitation treatment reduces motor disability in patients in the early stages of PD and increases brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) serum levels.


Thirty participants in the early stages of PD treated with rasagiline were randomly assigned to 3 hours of rehabilitation treatment that included aerobic exercise for 28 days (Group 1) or to not therapy (control; Group 2). BDNF serum levels were assessed at time T0 (baseline, before treatment), T1 (10 days), T2 (20 days), and T3 (28 days). At T0 and T3, we assessed the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) III in both groups, as well as the UPDRS II and total, Berg Balance Scale, and 6-minute walking test only in Group 1.


BDNF levels significantly increased at T1 in Group 1, an increase that was maintained throughout the treatment period. At T3 compared to T0, UPDRS III scores significantly improved in Group 1 along with scores for UPDRS II, total, Berg Balance Scale, and 6-minute walking test.


Intensive rehabilitation treatment increases the BDNF levels and improves PD signs in patients in the early stages of the disease. These results are in line with studies on animal models of PD and healthy subjects.


BDNF; Parkinson’s disease; neuroplasticity; rehabilitation

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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