Blood factors transfer beneficial effects of exercise on neurogenesis and cognition to the aged brain

Science. 2020 Jul 10;369(6500):167-173. doi: 10.1126/science.aaw2622.


Reversing brain aging may be possible through systemic interventions such as exercise. We found that administration of circulating blood factors in plasma from exercised aged mice transferred the effects of exercise on adult neurogenesis and cognition to sedentary aged mice. Plasma concentrations of glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-specific phospholipase D1 (Gpld1), a GPI-degrading enzyme derived from liver, were found to increase after exercise and to correlate with improved cognitive function in aged mice, and concentrations of Gpld1 in blood were increased in active, healthy elderly humans. Increasing systemic concentrations of Gpld1 in aged mice ameliorated age-related regenerative and cognitive impairments by altering signaling cascades downstream of GPI-anchored substrate cleavage. We thus identify a liver-to-brain axis by which blood factors can transfer the benefits of exercise in old age.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aging / blood*
  • Animals
  • Blood Circulation
  • Brain / blood supply
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / blood
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / physiopathology
  • Glycosylphosphatidylinositols / metabolism
  • Liver / enzymology*
  • Mice
  • Neurogenesis*
  • Phospholipase D / blood*
  • Phospholipase D / metabolism
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal*
  • Regeneration
  • Signal Transduction


  • Glycosylphosphatidylinositols
  • Phospholipase D
  • glycoprotein phospholipase D