Acute BDNF and cortisol response to low intensity exercise and following ramp incremental exercise to exhaustion in humans

Brain Res. 2006 Nov 22;1121(1):59-65. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2006.08.105. Epub 2006 Sep 28.


The effect of short-term aerobic exercise and a following ramp incremental cycle ergometry to exhaustion on the acute response of the serum concentrations of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and cortisol (COR) was examined in 8 healthy male athletes. Venous and capillary blood samples were drawn at rest, immediately after a 10 min warm-up period with aerobic exercise and after a ramp test to exhaustion, as well as 3, 6, 10 and 15 min post exercise. Capillary blood lactate (LA) concentration and blood gases as well as serum BDNF and COR concentrations did not change during the warm-up period. LA was increased (p<0.05) at the end of the ramp test and during recovery period while bicarbonate concentration, carbon dioxide pressure, pH and base excess were decreased (p<0.05) during this period. Serum BDNF was increased at the point of exhaustion (p<0.05) while no significant differences were found between values at rest and those during recovery period. At 10 and 15 min post incremental exercise, COR concentrations were increased (p<0.05) compared to rest. The present study is the first to demonstrate in humans that in contrast to short duration aerobic exercise immediately after a following short duration high-intensity exercise to exhaustion, there is a transient augmentation of serum BDNF concentration. Short-term response of serum BDNF and COR concentrations differs as BDNF returns to baseline level faster than COR.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / blood*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Test
  • Heat Exhaustion / blood*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood*
  • Lactic Acid / blood
  • Male
  • Sports


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Lactic Acid
  • Hydrocortisone