Responses of Serum Levels of Neurotrophic factors to Carbohydrate Consumption during Aerobic Exercise Training in Adolescent Men’s Futsal Players

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Assistant Professor, Faculty of Sport Sciences, Allameh Tabataba’i University, Tehran, Iran

2 Associate Professor, Sport Sciences Department, Literature and Human Sciences Faculty, Lorestan University, Khorramabad, Iran

3 . MSc of Exercise Physiology, Physical Education Faculty, Shahid Chamran University, Ahwaz, Iran


Neurotrophic factors mediate the effects of physical activity on brain health and function. The aim of study was to study the effect of aerobic exercise in the form of treadmill running with and without carbohydrate supplementation on serum levels of BDNF, NT-3, NT-4 and IGF-1. In this semi-experimental study, 12beginner adolescent men’s futsal players in Khorramabad city (age: 17.13±0.64years; weight: 64.25±10.18kg; height: 172.88±5.59cm) voluntarily selected. Subjects performed 1hour of treadmill running with moderate intensity (60% heart rate reserve) in two sessions with carbohydrate supplementation and placebo, in a randomized cross-over design. Blood samples were obtained before first training session and 5min after training sessions. The serum BDNF, NT-3, NT-4 and IGF-1 concentrations were measured using an ELISA kit. Statistical analysis were performed by repeated measures test and the level of significance was set at p0.05). Also, there was no change in serum levels of IGF-1 (p =.099). One hour of aerobic exercise with moderate intensity with and without carbohydrate supplementation equally leads to increase serum levels of BDNF, NT-3 and NT-4. Therefore, it seems that in order to increase the effects of carbohydrate supplementation on serum levels of neurotrophins, duration/intensity of exercise, or both, or concentration of carbohydrate should be increased.


1. Yuen EC, Howe CL, Li Y, Holtzman DM, Mobley WC. Nerve growth factor and the neurotrophic factor hypothesis. Brain Dev. 1996;18:362-8.
2. Bath KG, Lee FS. Variant BDNF (Val66Met) impact on brain structure and function. Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci. 2006;6(1):79-85..
3. Numakawa T, Suzuki S, Kumamaru E, Adachi N, Richards M, Kunugi H. BDNF function and intracellular signaling in neurons. Histology andhistopathology. 2010;25(2):237-258.
4. Huang E, Reichardt L. Neurotrophins: Roles in neuronal development and function. Annual Review of Neuroscience. 2001;24:677-736.
5. Cotman CW, Berchtold NC, Christie LA. Exercise builds brain health: key roles of growth factor cascades and inflammation. Trends Neurosci. 2007;30:464-472.
6. Correia PR, Pansani A, Machado F, Andrade M, Silva ACD, Scorza FA, et al. Acute strength exercise and the involvement of small or large muscle mass on plasma brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels. Clinics. 2010;65(11):1123-1126.
7. Gold SM, Schulz KH, Hartmann S, Mladek M, Lang UE, Hellweg R, et al. Basal serum levels and reactivity of nerve growth factor and brain-derived neurotrophic factor to standardized acute exercise in multiple sclerosis and controls. Journal of neuroimmunology. 2003;138(1):99-105.
8. Seifert T, Brassard P, Wissenberg M, Rasmussen P, Nordby P, Stallknecht B, et al. Endurance training enhances BDNF release from the human brain. American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. 2010;298(2):372-377.
9. Zoladz JA, Pilc A, Majerczak J, Grandys M, Zapart-Bukowska J, Duda K. Endurance training increases plasma brain-derived neurotrophic factor concentration in young healthy men. J Physiol Pharmacol. 2008;59(Suppl 7):119-132.
10. Carro E, Trejo JL, Busiguina S, Torres-Aleman I. Circulating insulin like growth factor I mediates the protective effects of physical exercise against brain insults of different etiology and anatomy. J Neurosci. 2001;21:5678–5684.
11. Ding Q, Vaynman S, Akhavan M, Ying Z, Gomez-Pinilla F. Insulin like growth factor I interfaces with brain-derived neurotrophic factor mediated synaptic plasticity to modulate aspects of exercise-induced cognitive function. Neuroscience. 2006; 140:823–833.
12. Trejo J L, Carro E, Torres-Aleman I. Circulating insulin-like growth factor I mediates exercise-induced increases in the number of new neurons in the adult hippocampus. J Neurosci. 2001;21:1628–1634.
13. Parker JL. Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor Response During Endurance Cycle Training: Impact of Carbohydrate and Protein Supplementation. Senior Honors Projects. 2016;Paper 137.
14. Lohof AM, Ip NY, Poo MM. Potentiation of developing neuromuscular synapses by the neurotrophins NT-3 and BDNF. Nature, 1993; 363: 350–353.
15. Wang T, Xie K, Lu B. Neurotrophins promote maturation of developing neuromuscular synapses. J. Neurosci, 1993; 15: 4796–4805.
16. Ernfors P, Lee KF, Kucera J, Jaenisch R. Lack of neurotrophin-3 leads to deficiences in the peripheral nervous system and loss of limb propioceptive afferents. Cell, 1994; 77: 503–512.
17. Ferrer I, Krupinski J, Goutan E, Martí E, Ambrosio S, Arenas E. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor reduces cortical cell death by ischemia after middle cerebral artery occlusion in the rat. Acta Neuropathol, 2001; 101: 229–238.
18- Meeusen R. Exercise, Nutrition and the Brain. Sports Med. 2014;44(Suppl 1):47–56.
19. Sánchez-Villegas A, Galbete C, Martinez-González MÁ, Martinez JA, Razquin C, Salas-Salvadó J, et al. The effect of the Mediterranean diet on plasma brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels: the PREDIMED-NAVARRA randomized trial. Nutritional neuroscience. 2011;14(5):195-201.
20. Mattson MP, Wan R. Beneficial effects of intermittent fasting and caloric restriction on the cardiovascular and cerebrovascular systems. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. 2005;16(3):129-137.
21. Molteni R, Wu A, Vaynman S, Ying Z, Barnard RJ, Gomez-Pinilla F. Exercise reverses the harmful effects of consumption of a high-fat diet on synaptic and behavioral plasticity associated to the action of brain-derived neurotrophic factor. Neuroscience. 2004;123(2):429-440.
22. Maioli S, Puerta E, Merino-Serrais P, Fusari L, Gil-Bea F, Rimondini R, et al. Combination of apolipoprotein E4 and high carbohydrate diet reduces hippocampal BDNF and arc levels and impairs memory in young mice. J Alzheimers Dis. 2012;32(2):341-55.
23. Hoeger WWK, Hoeger SA. Lifetime physical fitness and Wellness: A Personalized Program. 12th ed. Wadsworth, Cengage Learning; 2013. P. 206. 
24. Campbell BI. Sports nutrition: Enhancing athletic performance. CRC press. Taylor & Francis Group; 2014. P. 92.
25. Ferris LT, Williams JS, Shen CL. The effect of acute exercise on serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels and cognitive function. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2007;39:728–734.
26. Farmer J, Zhao X, Van Praag H, Wodtke K, Gage FH, Christie BR. Effects of voluntary exercise on synaptic plasticity and gene expression in the dentate gyrus of adult male Sprague-Dawley rats in vivo. Neuroscience. 2004;124:71–79.
27. Gomez-Pinilla F, Vaynman S, Ying Z. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor functions as a metabotrophin to mediate the effects of exercise on cognition. Eur J Neurosci. 2008;28:2278–2287.
28. Griesbach GS, Hovda DA, Gomez-Pinilla F. Exercise-induced improvement in cognitive performance after traumatic brain injury in rats is dependent on BDNF activation. Brain Res. 2009;1288:105–115.
29. Vaynman S, Ying Z, Gomez-Pinilla F. Hippocampal BDNF mediates the efficacy of exercise on synaptic plasticity and cognition. Eur J Neurosci. 2004;20:2580–2590.
30. Raichlen DA, Gordon AD. Relationship between exercise capacity and brain size in mammals. PloS one. 2011;6(6):e20601.
31. Klintsova AY, Greenough WT. Synaptic plasticity in cortical systems. Curr Opin Neurobiol, 1999; 9: 203–208.
32. Chung J-Y, Kim M-W, Bang M-S, Kim M. Increased Expression of Neurotrophin 4 Following Focal Cerebral Ischemia in Adult Rat Brain with Treadmill Exercise. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8(3): e52461.
33. Ying Z, Roy RR, Edgerton VR, Gómez-Pinilla F. Voluntary exercise increases neurotrophin-3 and its receptor TrkC in the spinal cord. Brain Research, 2003; 987: 93–99.
34. Williams CM, El Mohsen MA, Vauzour D, Rendeiro C, Butler LT, Ellis JA, et al. Blueberry-induced changes in spatial working memory correlate with changes in hippocampal CREB phosphorylation and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels. Free Radical Biology and Medicine. 2008;45(3):295-305.
35. Matthews VB, Åström MB, Chan MHS, Bruce CR, Krabbe KS, Prelovsek O, et al. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor is produced by skeletal muscle cells in response to contraction and enhances fat oxidation via activation of AMP-activated protein kinase. Diabetologia. 2009;52(7):1409-1418.
36. Wilson GJ, Layman DK, Moulton CJ, Norton LE, Anthony TG, Proud CG, et al. Leucine or carbohydrate supplementation reduces AMPK and eEF2 phosphorylation and extends postprandial muscle protein synthesis in rats. American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2011;30(6):1236-1242.
37. Cassilhas RC, Viana VAR, Grassmann V, Santos RT, Santos RF, Tufik S, et al. The impact of resistance exercise on the cognitive function of the elderly. Med Sci Sports Exercise. 2007;39:1401–1407.
38. Lopez-Lopez C, LeRoith D, Torres-Aleman I. Insulin-like growth factor I is required for vessel remodeling in the adult brain. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 2004;101:9833–9838.