Int J Sports Med 2018; 39(01): 5-11
DOI: 10.1055/s-0043-120343
Physiology & Biochemistry
© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Effect of Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation on Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor

Toshiaki Miyamoto1, Keihou Kou2, Hideya Yanamoto1, Saya Hashimoto1, Mai Ikawa1, Takashi Sekiyama1, Yoshiki Nakano1, Shin-ichiro Kashiwamura3, 4, Chisako Takeda2, Hiroyuki Fujioka1
  • 1School of Rehabilitation, Hyogo University of Health Sciences, Kobe, Japan
  • 2School of Nursing, Hyogo University of Health Sciences, Kobe, Japan
  • 3General Education Center, Hyogo University of Health Sciences, Kobe, Japan
  • 4Institute for Advanced Medical Sciences, Hyogo College of Medicine Nishinomiya, Japan
Further Information

Publication History

accepted 18 September 2017

Publication Date:
10 November 2017 (eFirst)


Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) has been considered an essential mediator responsible for the beneficial effects of physical activity in preventing cognitive impairment. This study aimed at examining the effects of a single bout of neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) on levels of BDNF in the plasma and on cognitive performance in healthy adult men. Thirteen healthy adult men participated in three experimental sessions. The first session was 30 min of NMES to both legs, the second was 30 min of cycling exercise at the intensity of 60% peak oxygen uptake, and the third was 30 min of complete rest. Blood was examined for plasma BDNF levels and glucose concentrations, and cognitive performance tests were performed before and after each session. A single bout of NMES significantly increased plasma BDNF levels (p<0.05), which were equivalent to the amount of plasma BDNF released during the exercise session (p>0.05). However, there were no significant changes in cognitive performance between the sessions (p>0.05). The present study found that a single bout of NMES significantly increased plasma BDNF to levels normally present during moderate voluntary exercise. Therefore, NMES could serve as an alternative method of exercise, and might shed light on individuals for whom voluntary physical exercise is contraindicated.