Low-volume acute multi-joint resistance exercise elicits a circulating brain-derived neurotrophic factor response but not a cathepsin B response in well-trained men

Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2020 Dec;45(12):1332-1338. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2019-0854. Epub 2020 Jun 12.


This study examined if acute multi-joint resistance exercises (RE; back squat, bench press, and deadlift) to volitional failure elicited a postexercise increase in the circulating response of biomarkers associated with neuroprotection. Thirteen males (age: 24.5 ± 3.8 years, body mass: 84.01 ± 15.44 kg, height: 173.43 ± 8.57 cm, training age: 7.1 ± 4.2 years) performed 4 sets to failure at 80% of a 1-repetition maximum on the squat, bench press, and deadlift in successive weeks. The measured biomarkers were brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), cathepsin B (CatB), and interleukin 6 (IL-6). Biomarkers were assessed immediately before and 10-min after exercise. There was a main time effect (pre-exercise: 24.00 ± 0.61 to postexercise: 27.38 ± 0.48 ng/mL; p < 0.01) for BDNF with increases in the deadlift (p = 0.01) and bench press (p = 0.01) conditions, but not in the squat condition (p = 0.21). There was a main time effect (pre-exercise: 0.87 ± 0.16 to postexercise: 2.03 ± 0.32 pg/mL; p < 0.01) for IL-6 with a significant increase in the squat (p < 0.01), but not the bench press (p = 0.88) and deadlift conditions (p = 0.24). No main time effect was observed for either CatB (p = 0.62) or IGF-1 (p = 0.56). In summary, acute multi-joint RE increases circulating BDNF. Further, this investigation is the first to report the lack of a transient change of CatB to an acute RE protocol. Novelty Low-volume RE to failure can increase BDNF. Resistance training does not confer an acute Cat B response.

Keywords: accroupissement; bench press; deadlift; dommages musculaires; développé couché; exercice de résistance; muscle damage; neuroprotection; resistance exercise; soulevé de terre; squat.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / blood*
  • Cathepsin B / blood*
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / analysis
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Joints
  • Male
  • Resistance Training / methods*
  • Young Adult


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • IGF1 protein, human
  • IL6 protein, human
  • Interleukin-6
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • BDNF protein, human
  • CTSB protein, human
  • Cathepsin B