Previous studies demonstrated exercise-induced modulation of neurotrophins, such as Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) and Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). Yet, no study that we are aware of has examined their change as a function of different training paradigms. In addition, the understanding of the possible training-induced relationship between NGF and BDNF change is still lacking. Consequently, in the current study we examined the effect of a Walking Training (WT) and of Quadrato Motor Training (QMT) on NGF and BDNF precursors (proNGF and proBDNF). QMT is a specifically structured sensorimotor training that involves sequences of movements based on verbal commands, that was previously reported to improve spatial cognition, reflectivity, creativity as well as emotion regulation and general self-efficacy. In addition, QMT was reported to induce electrophysiological and morphological changes, suggesting stimulation of neuroplasticity processes. In two previous independent studies we reported QMT-induced changes in the salivary proNGF and proBDNF levels. Our present results demonstrate that following 12 weeks of daily QMT practice, proNGF level increases while proBDNF showed no significant change. More importantly, while no correlation between the two neurotrophins prior to training was detectable, there was a significant correlation between change in proNGF and proBDNF levels. Taken together the current results suggest that the two neurotrophins undergo a complex modulation, likely related to the different pathways by which they are produced and regulated. Since variations of these neurotrophins have been previously linked to depression, stress and anxiety, the current study may have practical implications and aid in understanding the possible physiological mechanisms that mediate improved well-being, and the dynamic change of neurotrophins as a result of training.
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