Physical exercise has long been recognized to benefit locomotor and cardiovascular systems. Although an
increasing body of evidence also suggests it to be an effective non-medicinal remedy for mental disorders such as
depression, the underlying mechanisms remain elusive. A recent study has demonstrated that increases of the adipocytesecreted
hormone adiponectin in the central nervous system following exercise may be responsible for these
neuropsychological changes, including enhanced generation of neurons in the adult hippocampus, as well as mitigation of
depressive severity. The present review introduces the previously-reported functions of adult hippocampal neurogenesis
and adiponectin, and discusses the potential relevance of adiponectin signaling in exercise-induced neural changes.
Revealing these novel biological effects of adiponectin in the brain may help hunt reliable biomarkers to better guide the
anti-depressive therapy with exercise intervention; meanwhile, pharmaceutical agents that raise endogenous levels of
adiponectin or mimic its biological effects might serve as a replacement for physical exercise.
Keywords: Adult neurogenesis, hippocampus, adiponectin, depression, physical exercise.
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