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Int J Neurosci. 2016;126(4):366-73. doi: 10.3109/00207454.2015.1012587. Epub 2015 Jun 5.

Combining restricted diet with forced or voluntary exercises improves hippocampal BDNF and cognitive function in rats.

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a Department of Rehabilitation Sciences , Jordan University of Science and Technology , Irbid , Jordan.
b Department of Medical Laboratory Sciences , Jordan University of Science and Technology , Irbid , Jordan.
c Department of Biology, Faculty of Science , Taibah University , Madinah Munawara , Saudi Arabia.
d Department of Clinical Pharmacy , Jordan University of Science and Technology , Irbid , Jordan.


Dietary restriction (RDt) and exercise (Ex) enhances cognitive function due, at least in part, levels of neurotrophins such as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This study examined changes in BDNF levels and data acquisition and retention following every-other-day RDt alone, and combined with either voluntary wheel (VxRDt) or forced swimming Exs (FxRDt) in rats. Hippocampal BDNF was measured using ELISA while learning and memory formation were assessed with the radial arm water maze (RAWM) paradigm. After 6 weeks, VxRDt and FxRDt enhanced BDNF levels, and short- and long-term memories (p < 0.05). The magnitude of the increase in BDNF was significantly higher in VxRDt group than in other groups (p < 0.05). However, no differences were found in learning and memory formation between the Ex regiments (VxRDt versus FxRDt). Additionally, RDt alone neither modulated BDNF level nor enhanced learning and memory formation (p > 0.05). These results suggest more important role of Ex, as opposed to RDt, in enhancing learning and memory formation. In addition, VxRDt appears to be more potent in enhancing brain BDNF levels than FxRDt, when combined with RDt in rats.


BDNF; diet; forced exercise; hippocampus; memory; voluntary exercise

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