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Expert Rev Neurother. 2016 Jun;16(6):723-34. doi: 10.1080/14737175.2016.1179582. Epub 2016 May 6.

Exercise-induced neuroprotective effects on neurodegenerative diseases: the key role of trophic factors.

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a Laboratory of Panic and Respiration , Institute of Psychiatry of Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (IPUB/UFRJ) , Rio de Janeiro , Brazil.
b School of Allied Health Sciences , Polytechnic Institute of Porto , Porto , Portugal.
c Physical Activity Neuroscience Laboratory , Physical Activity Sciences Postgraduate Program - Salgado de Oliveira University (UNIVERSO) , Niterói , Brazil.


Age-related neurodegenerative disorders, like Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease, are becoming a major issue to public health care. Currently, there is no effective pharmacological treatment to address cognitive impairment in these patients. Here, we aim to explore the role of exercise-induced trophic factor enhancement in the prevention or delay of cognitive decline in patients with neurodegenerative diseases. There is a significant amount of evidence from animal and human studies that links neurodegenerative related cognitive deficits with changes on brain and peripheral trophic factor levels. Several trials with elderly individuals and patients with neurodegenerative diseases report exercise induced cognitive improvements and changes on trophic factor levels including BDNF, IGF-I, among others. Further studies with healthy aging and clinical populations are needed to understand how diverse exercise interventions produce different variations in trophic factor signaling. Genetic profiles and potential confounders regarding trophic factors should also be addressed in future trials.


Alzheimer’s disease; BDNF; Exercise; GDNF; IGF-I; NGF; Parkinson’s disease; neurodegenerative disease; neuroprotective; neurotrophins

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