Neuroinflammation negatively affects adult hippocampal neurogenesis and cognition: can exercise compensate?

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2016 Feb:61:121-31. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2015.12.004. Epub 2015 Dec 13.


Adult hippocampal neurogenesis is believed to be integral for certain forms of learning and memory. Dysregulation of hippocampal neurogenesis has been shown to be an important mechanism underlying the cognitive impairment associated with normal aging, as well as the cognitive deficits evident in preclinical models of Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. Neuroinflammation is a significant pathological feature of these conditions; it contributes to the observed cognitive decline, and recent evidence demonstrates that it also negatively affects hippocampal neurogenesis. Conversely, during the past twenty years, it has been robustly shown that exercise is a potent inducer of hippocampal neurogenesis, and it is believed that the positive beneficial effect of exercise on cognitive function is likely due to its pro-neurogenic effects. However, the interplay between exercise- and neuroinflammatory-induced changes in hippocampal neurogenesis and associated cognitive function has only recently begun to receive attention. Here we review the current literature on exercise-induced effects on hippocampal neurogenesis, cognitive function and neuroinflammation, and consider exercise as a potential pro-neurogenic and anti-inflammatory intervention for cognition.

Keywords: Aging; Alzheimer's disease; Cognition; Exercise; Hippocampus; Inflammation; Memory; Neurogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / physiopathology*
  • Memory / physiology
  • Neurogenesis / physiology*