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Brain Plast. 2015;1(1):55-61. doi: 10.3233/BPL-150019.

FNDC5/irisin - their role in the nervous system and as a mediator for beneficial effects of exercise on the brain.

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Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Department of Cell Biology, Harvard Medical School, 44 Binney Street, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Exercise can improve cognitive function and the outcome of neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer's disease. This effect has been linked to the increased expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). However, the underlying molecular mechanisms driving the elevation of this neurotrophin remain unknown. Recently, we have reported a PGC-1α-FNDC5/irisin pathway, which is activated by exercise in the hippocampus in mice and induces a neuroprotective gene program, including Bdnf. This review will focus on FNDC5 and its secreted form "irisin", a newly discovered myokine, and their role in the nervous system and its therapeutic potential. In addition, we will briefly discuss the role of other exercise-induced myokines on positive brain effects.


BDNF; Exercise; FNDC5; brain; cognition; hippocampus; irisin; physical activity

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