Physiological genomics

Peripheral vascular reactivity and serum BDNF responses to aerobic training are impaired by the BDNF Val66Met polymorphism.

PMID 26603150


Besides neuronal plasticity, the neurotrophin brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is also important in vascular function. The BDNF has been associated with angiogenesis through its specific receptor tropomyosin-related kinase B (TrkB). Additionally, Val66Met polymorphism decreases activity-induced BDNF. Since BDNF and TrkB are expressed in vascular endothelial cells and aerobic exercise training can increase serum BDNF, this study aimed to test the hypotheses: 1) Serum BDNF levels modulate peripheral blood flow; 2) The Val66Met BDNF polymorphism impairs exercise training-induced vasodilation. We genotyped 304 healthy male volunteers (Val66Val, n = 221; Val66Met, n = 83) who underwent intense aerobic exercise training on a running track three times/wk for 4 mo. We evaluated pre- and post-exercise training serum BDNF and proBDNF concentration, heart rate (HR), mean blood pressure (MBP), forearm blood flow (FBF), and forearm vascular resistance (FVR). In the pre-exercise training, BDNF, proBDNF, BDNF/proBDNF ratio, FBF, and FVR were similar between genotypes. After exercise training, functional capacity (V̇o2 peak) increased and HR decreased similarly in both groups. Val66Val, but not Val66Met, increased BDNF (interaction, P = 0.04) and BDNF/proBDNF ratio (interaction, P < 0.001). Interestingly, FBF (interaction, P = 0.04) and the FVR (interaction, P = 0.01) responses during handgrip exercise (HG) improved in Val66Val compared with Val66Met, even with similar responses of HR and MBP. There were association between BDNF/proBDNF ratio and FBF (r = 0.64, P < 0.001) and FVR (r = -0.58, P < 0.001) during HG exercise. These results show that peripheral vascular reactivity and serum BDNF responses to exercise training are impaired by the BDNF Val66Met polymorphism and such responsiveness is associated with serum BDNF concentrations in healthy subjects.