Physical Exercise Increased Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor in Elderly Population with Depression


  • Fauziah Nuraini Kurdi Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Sriwijaya University, Palembang, Indonesia
  • Rostika Flora Faculty of Public Health, Sriwijaya University, Palembang, Indonesia



Exercise, Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, Depression


BACKGROUND: Depression is very common in the elderly population. Physical exercise is one of the non-pharmacological procedures that promise to be a solution to improve the severity of depression. Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) plays a role in maintaining the survival of neuronal cells and in the regulation of synapse plasticity, affecting serotonin production in the hippocampus and thus the depressive symptoms.

AIM: This study aimed to assess the role of physical exercise in affecting BDNF levels in elderly with depression.

METHODS: Thirty-five elderly women (age ≥ 50 years) with depressive episodes based on Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)-V criteria were enrolled as treatment group, and 35 elderly women without depressive episodes were enrolled as control group, and underwent physical exercise in the form of treadmill with a speed of 6 km/h for 15 minutes. Physical exercise was carried out once a day for 28 days. As much as 1 ml of blood from the study, subjects were obtained from the cubital vein before the exercise commenced. Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) serum level was assessed by Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA). Data were presented in the form of mean ± SD. An independent T-test was used to test levels after exercise in the depression group compared to the non-depression group.

RESULTS: Pre-exercise BDNF levels in the depression group were lower than the group of elderly without depression. Physical exercise increased BDNF production in both elderly groups with and without depression. In the depression group, the increasing percentage of BDNF level was higher compared to non-depressive elderly.

CONCLUSION: The increasing percentage of BDNF level was found to be higher in depressive elderly performing physical exercise. Physical exercise may be beneficial in supporting the therapy of elderly with depression.


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How to Cite

Kurdi FN, Flora R. Physical Exercise Increased Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor in Elderly Population with Depression. Open Access Maced J Med Sci [Internet]. 2019 Jul. 20 [cited 2022 May 19];7(13):2057-61. Available from:



A - Basic Science

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