Physical exercise, reactive oxygen species and neuroprotection

Zsolt Radak, Katsuhiko Suzuki, Mitsuru Higuchi, Laszlo Balogh, Istvan Boldogh, Erika Koltai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Regular exercise has systemic beneficial effects, including the promotion of brain function. The adaptive response to regular exercise involves the up-regulation of the enzymatic antioxidant system and modulation of oxidative damage. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are important regulators of cell signaling. Exercise, via intensity-dependent modulation of metabolism and/or directly activated ROS generating enzymes, regulates the cellular redox state of the brain. ROS are also involved in the self-renewal and differentiation of neuronal stem cells and the exercise-mediated neurogenesis could be partly associated with ROS production. Exercise has strong effects on the immune system and readily alters the production of cytokines. Certain cytokines, especially IL-6, IL-1, TNF-α, IL-18 and IFN gamma, are actively involved in the modulation of synaptic plasticity and neurogenesis. Cytokines can also contribute to ROS production. ROS-mediated alteration of lipids, protein, and DNA could directly affect brain function, while exercise modulates the accumulation of oxidative damage. Oxidative alteration of macromolecules can activate signaling processes, membrane remodeling, and gene transcription. The well known neuroprotective effects of exercise are partly due to redox-associated adaptation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-196
Number of pages10
JournalFree Radical Biology and Medicine
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • Brain plasticity
  • Exercise
  • Neurogenesis
  • Neuronal stem cells
  • Redox signaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology (medical)


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