European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 110, Issue 2, pp 285–293 | Cite as

Strength training does not influence serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor

  • Maaike Goekint
  • Kevin De Pauw
  • Bart Roelands
  • Rose Njemini
  • Ivan Bautmans
  • Tony Mets
  • Romain MeeusenEmail author
Original Article


The purpose of the study was to examine the acute effect of a strength training session on brain-derived neurotrophic factor and insulin-like growth factor 1. Furthermore, the influence of a 10-week strength training program on brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) resting levels and memory performance was studied. Fifteen untrained subjects followed a strength training program for 10 weeks. Eight control subjects remained physically inactive. To study the influence of an acute strength training session, blood samples were taken before and after the sixth and 30th sessions. Training effects were evaluated by taking blood samples at rest before and following the training program. Short- and mid-term memories were assessed using the digit span and a recall of images test. BDNF, IGF-1 and its binding protein (IGFBP-3) were measured in serum samples. Data were analyzed (p < 0.05) using a mixed design ANOVA model, Duncan’s multiple range post hoc tests, and Pearson’s correlation. A single strength training session did not influence BDNF and IGF-1 concentrations. No effect of the strength training period on BDNF, IGF-1, and IGFBP-3 was found. No correlation was found between peripheral BDNF and IGF-1. Short-term memory improved in both the experimental and control groups, but no difference between groups was present. Mid-term memory did not improve following the 10 weeks of training. A period of strength training in sedentary subjects does not significantly change the growth factors or memory function compared to a control group. Also, BDNF and IGF-1 are not acutely influenced by a training session. Further research should focus on the beneficial role of physical exercise in neurodegenerative diseases.


Brain-derived neurotrophic factor Humans Strength training Cognition Memory 



The authors would like to thank Katelijne Verbeiren, Luk Buyse, Frank Pauwels, Guy De Schutter, Bieke Hermans and Marloes Hanssen for all the help on the practical work. We gratefully acknowledge Prof. Carl Foster for his valuable comments on this work. This research was supported by the Research Council of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (OZR 1595). Researcher Maaike Goekint is supported as Aspirant by the Research Foundation (FWO)-Flanders.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maaike Goekint
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kevin De Pauw
    • 1
  • Bart Roelands
    • 1
  • Rose Njemini
    • 3
    • 4
  • Ivan Bautmans
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Tony Mets
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Romain Meeusen
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Human Physiology and Sports Medicine, Faculty of Physical Education and Physical TherapyVrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselsBelgium
  2. 2.Aspirant of the Research Foundation-FlandersBrusselsBelgium
  3. 3.Department of Gerontology, Faculty of Medicine and PharmacyVrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselsBelgium
  4. 4.Frailty in Ageing Research, Faculty of Medicine and PharmacyVrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselsBelgium
  5. 5.Department of GeriatricsUniversitair Ziekenhuis BrusselBrusselsBelgium

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