Neural Mechanisms of Exercise: Anti-Depression, Neurogenesis, and Serotonin Signaling

CNS Neurol Disord Drug Targets. 2015;14(10):1307-11. doi: 10.2174/1871527315666151111124402.


Depression is associated with decreased serotonin metabolism and functioning in the central nervous system, evidenced by both animal models of depression and clinical patient studies. Depression is also accompanied by decreased hippocampal neurogenesis in diverse animal models. Neurogenesis is mainly defined in dentate gyrus of hippocampus as well as subventricular zone. Moreover, hypothalamus, amygdala, olfactory tubercle, and piriform cortex are reported with evidences of adult neurogenesis. Physical exercise is found to modulate adult neurogenesis significantly, and results in mood improvement. The cellular mechanism such as adult neurogenesis upregulation was considered as one major mood regulator following exercise. The recent advances in molecular mechanisms underlying exercise-regulated neurogenesis have widen our understanding in brain plasticity in physiological and pathological conditions, and therefore better management of different psychiatric disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Depressive Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise / psychology
  • Humans
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Neurogenesis / physiology*
  • Serotonin / metabolism*


  • Serotonin