Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) serum basal levels is not affected by power training in mobility-limited older adults — A randomized controlled trial

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Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a potential important factor involved in neuroplasticity, and may be a mediator for eliciting adaptations in neuromuscular function and physical function in older individuals following physical training. As power training taxes the neural system to a very high extent, it may be particularly effective in terms of eliciting increases in systemic BDNF levels. We examined the effects of 12 weeks of power training on mature BDNF (mBDNF) and total BDNF (tBDNF) in mobility-limited older adults from the Healthy Ageing Network of Competence (HANC) study. We included 47 older men and women: n = 22 in the training group (TG: progressive high intensity power training, 2 sessions per week; age 82.7 ± 5.4 years, 55% women) and n = 25 in the control group (CG: no interventions; age 82.2 ± 4.5 years, 76% women). Following overnight fasting, basal serum levels of mBDNF and tBDNF were assessed (human ELISA kits) at baseline and post-intervention. At baseline, mBDNF and tBDNF levels were comparable in the two groups, TG and CG. Post-intervention, no significant within-group or between-group changes were observed in mBDNF or tBDNF. Moreover, when divided into responder tertiles based upon changes in mBDNF and tBDNF (i.e. decliners, maintainers, improvers), respectively, comparable findings were observed for TG and CG. Altogether, basal systemic levels of serum mBDNF and tBDNF are not affected in mobility-limited older adults following 12-weeks of power training, and do not appear to be a major mechanistic factor mediating neuroplasticity in mobility-limited older adults.

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