Due to the positive effects of exercise on specific neuroprotective brain proteins, physical exercise shows promise as a potential non-pharmacological treatment for schizophrenia, according to a study published in Psychiatry Research. Two other studies appearing in other journals this month provide support for these findings.
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) “is known to be responsible for maintenance of neurons [and] has been implicated in the pathology of schizophrenia,” the Seoul National University researchers wrote. In their study, twenty-four patients diagnosed with schizophrenia participated in a 12-week program involving both aerobic and resistance exercises. Apart from many measurable increases in overall physical health, the researchers found that, “Serum BDNF values had significantly increased following the combined exercise program.”
“These results suggest that exercise induced modulation of BDNF may play an important role in developing non-pharmacological treatment for chronic schizophrenic patients,” they concluded.
Another study, a random-controlled trial led by Peking University researchers published online this month in Psychoneuroendocrinology, found decreases in BDNF in people diagnosed with schizophrenia. BDNF “may be involved in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia,” they wrote.
And a meta-analysis of 29 studies into the effects of exercise on BDNF also appeared online this month in the Journal of Psychiatric Research. “We found a moderate effect of increased BDNF following a single session of exercise,” the Boston University researchers wrote. “Regular exercise intensified effect of a single session of exercise on BDNF levels.” They also found “a small effect of increased resting BDNF levels after regular exercise.”
(Abstract) Increase of circulating BDNF levels and its relation to improvement of physical fitness following 12 weeks of combined exercise in chronic patients with schizophrenia: A pilot study (Kim, Hee-jae et al. Psychiatry Research. Published Online: October 06, 2014. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2014.09.020)
(Abstract) The interplay between BDNF and oxidative stress in chronic schizophrenia (Zhang, Xiang Yang et al. Psychoneuroendocrinology. Published Online: October 07, 2014. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2014.09.029)
(Abstract) A meta-analytic review of the effects of exercise on brain-derived neurotrophic factor (Szuhany, Kristin L. et al. Journal of Psychiatric Research. Published Online: October 11, 2014. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychires.2014.10.003)