Brain Adaptations to Exercise in Health and Neurodegenerative Diseases: Considerations and Future Perspectives on the Underlying Mechanisms


Exercise positively influences the health of organs and systems, promoting longevity and counteracting the onset of chronic and/or degenerative diseases. In the context of the nervous system, exercise promotes the processes of neurogenesis, neuronal survival, neural transmission, and synaptic plasticity, improving and preserving cognitive abilities and mental health. For this reason, exercise is often referred to as an effective strategy aimed at both preventing and counteracting numerous pathological conditions affecting the nervous system. Indeed, in addition to reducing the risk of the onset of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, it is an excellent tool for the management of conditions affecting the nervous system such as epilepsy and stroke. Such exercise-induced neuroprotection could be due, at least in part, to the positive modulation of several neurotrophic factors such as brain-derived neurotrophic factor and nerve growth factor. In addition, other molecular actors of lipid or protein nature, as well as some regulatory RNAs, produced in response to exercise both in the brain and in peripheral tissues, are able to influence nervous system function and brain health. Collectively, these molecular products of exercise have recently been referred to as exerkines. Although some of these have been known for some years, others remain unknown highlighting the need to identify their nature and function on the nervous system.

The extraordinary complexity of the effects of exercise on the nervous system eludes our full understanding, highlighting the need for both further investigation of the neurophysiological responses to exercise and the mechanisms by which it counteracts diseases of the nervous system. Indeed, despite common awareness of the efficacy of exercise as a powerful neuroprotective and anti-aging strategy, many questions still remain about the type of exercise and training protocols to choose to optimize its effects. Recent evidence has shown that the expression of numerous exerkines, which can influence synaptic transmission and plasticity, can vary significantly depending on both the type of exercise practiced and the periods of training. Understanding the responses of the nervous system to exercise is critical to determining the role of exerkines in brain well-being, facilitating the development of exercise protocols tailored to the individual needs of healthy or pathological subjects.

The purpose of this Topic is to gather recent evidence related to brain adaptations to exercise in order to upgrade the improved knowledge about the mechanisms involved in improving health, as well as in disease prevention and management. Experts and specialists in exercise physiology are welcome to submit original articles, systematic reviews and meta-analyses aimed at investigating nervous system responses to exercise, with particular emphasis on the role of molecular products, in health and disease.


Keywords:
Exercise, brain adaptations, neurodegeneration, exerkines, physiology, mental health, training, neuroprotection


Important Note:
All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Exercise positively influences the health of organs and systems, promoting longevity and counteracting the onset of chronic and/or degenerative diseases. In the context of the nervous system, exercise promotes the processes of neurogenesis, neuronal survival, neural transmission, and synaptic plasticity, improving and preserving cognitive abilities and mental health. For this reason, exercise is often referred to as an effective strategy aimed at both preventing and counteracting numerous pathological conditions affecting the nervous system. Indeed, in addition to reducing the risk of the onset of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, it is an excellent tool for the management of conditions affecting the nervous system such as epilepsy and stroke. Such exercise-induced neuroprotection could be due, at least in part, to the positive modulation of several neurotrophic factors such as brain-derived neurotrophic factor and nerve growth factor. In addition, other molecular actors of lipid or protein nature, as well as some regulatory RNAs, produced in response to exercise both in the brain and in peripheral tissues, are able to influence nervous system function and brain health. Collectively, these molecular products of exercise have recently been referred to as exerkines. Although some of these have been known for some years, others remain unknown highlighting the need to identify their nature and function on the nervous system.

The extraordinary complexity of the effects of exercise on the nervous system eludes our full understanding, highlighting the need for both further investigation of the neurophysiological responses to exercise and the mechanisms by which it counteracts diseases of the nervous system. Indeed, despite common awareness of the efficacy of exercise as a powerful neuroprotective and anti-aging strategy, many questions still remain about the type of exercise and training protocols to choose to optimize its effects. Recent evidence has shown that the expression of numerous exerkines, which can influence synaptic transmission and plasticity, can vary significantly depending on both the type of exercise practiced and the periods of training. Understanding the responses of the nervous system to exercise is critical to determining the role of exerkines in brain well-being, facilitating the development of exercise protocols tailored to the individual needs of healthy or pathological subjects.

The purpose of this Topic is to gather recent evidence related to brain adaptations to exercise in order to upgrade the improved knowledge about the mechanisms involved in improving health, as well as in disease prevention and management. Experts and specialists in exercise physiology are welcome to submit original articles, systematic reviews and meta-analyses aimed at investigating nervous system responses to exercise, with particular emphasis on the role of molecular products, in health and disease.


Keywords:
Exercise, brain adaptations, neurodegeneration, exerkines, physiology, mental health, training, neuroprotection


Important Note:
All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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