Intense exercise promotes adult hippocampal neurogenesis but not spatial discrimination

Ji H. So, Chao Huang, Minyan Ge, Guangyao Cai, Lanqiu Zhang, Yisheng Lu, Yangling Mu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Hippocampal neurogenesis persists throughout adult life and plays an important role in learning and memory. Although the influence of physical exercise on neurogenesis has been intensively studied, there is controversy in regard to how the impact of exercise may vary with its regime. Less is known about how distinct exercise paradigms may differentially affect the learning behavior. Here we found that, chronic moderate treadmill running led to an increase of cell proliferation, survival, neuronal differentiation, and migration. In contrast, intense running only promoted neuronal differentiation and migration, which was accompanied with lower expressions of vascular endothelial growth factor, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, insulin-like growth factor 1, and erythropoietin. In addition, the intensely but not mildly exercised animals exhibited a lower mitochondrial activity in the dentate gyrus. Correspondingly, neurogenesis induced by moderate but not intense exercise was sufficient to improve the animal’s ability in spatial pattern separation. Our data indicate that the effect of exercise on spatial learning is intensity-dependent and may involve mechanisms other than a simple increase in the number of new neurons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number13
JournalFrontiers in Cellular Neuroscience
StatePublished - Jan 31 2017


  • Erythropoietin
  • Hippocampus
  • Neurotrophic factors
  • Pattern separation
  • Prohibitin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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