Epigenetic modifications induced by exercise: Drug-free intervention to improve cognitive deficits associated with obesity

Physiol Behav. 2019 May 15:204:309-323. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2019.03.009. Epub 2019 Mar 12.


Obesity and metabolic disorders are increasing worldwide and are associated with brain atrophy and dysfunction, which are risk factors for late-onset dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Epidemiological studies demonstrated that changes in lifestyle, including the frequent practice of physical exercise are able to prevent and treat not only obesity/metabolic disorders, but also to improve cognitive function and dementia. Several biochemical pathways and epigenetic mechanisms have been proposed to understand the beneficial effects of physical exercise on cognition. This manuscript revised central ongoing research on epigenetic mechanisms induced by exercise and the beneficial effects on obesity-associated cognitive decline, highlighting potential mechanistic mediators.

Keywords: BDNF; Cognitive impairment; Epigenetics; Exercise; Gene expression; Obesity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cognition Disorders / etiology
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology
  • Cognition Disorders / therapy*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Obesity / psychology