Physical activity increases mRNA for brain-derived neurotrophic factor and nerve growth factor in rat brain

Brain Res. 1996 Jul 8;726(1-2):49-56.


Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and nerve growth factor (NGF) support the viability and function of many types of neurons, and are likely mediators of activity-dependent changes in the CNS. We examined BDNF and NGF mRNA levels in several brain areas of adult male rats following 0, 2, 4, or 7 nights with ad libitum access to running wheels. BDNF mRNA was significantly increased in several brain areas, most notably in the hippocampus and caudal 1/3 of cerebral cortex following 2, 4, and 7 nights with exercise. Significant elevations in BDNF mRNA were localized in Ammon's horn areas 1 (CA1) and 4 (CA4) of the hippocampus, and layers II-III of the caudal neocortex and retrosplenial cortex. NGF mRNA was also significantly elevated in the hippocampus and caudal 1/3 of the cortex, affecting primarily the dentate gyrus granular layer (DG) and CA4 of the hippocampus and layers II-III in caudal neocortex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / genetics*
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Nerve Growth Factors / genetics*
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Nerve Growth Factors
  • RNA, Messenger