The effect of exercise and nettle supplementation on oxidative stress markers in the rat brain

Anna Toldy, Krisztián Stadler, Mária Sasvári, Judit Jakus, Kyung J. Jung, Hae Y. Chung, István Berkes, Csaba Nyakas, Zsolt Radák*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Citations (Scopus)


Chronic swimming training and phytotherapeutic supplementation are assumed to alleviate oxidative damage, and support cell survival in the brain. The effect of forced, chronic swimming training, and enriched lab chow containing 1% (w/w) dried nettle (Urtica dioica) leaf were investigated for oxidative stress, inflammation and neurotrophic markers in Wistar rat brains. The rats were divided into groups subjected to swimming training (6 weeks) or to nettle supplementation (8 weeks) or to a combination of these two treatments. The level of oxidative stress was measured by electron spin resonance (EPR), and by the concentration of carbonylated proteins. Nettle supplementation resulted in a decreased concentration of free radicals in both cerebellum and frontal lobe. Swimming, however, did not influence significantly the oxidative damage nor was it reflected in the carbonyl content. The protein content of nerve growth factor (NGF), and brain-derived neurotrophic factors (BDNF) was evaluated by E-Max ImmunoAssay in the cerebellum. No changes occurred either with exercise or nettle diet treatments. On the other hand, nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) binding activity to DNA increased with the combined effect of swimming training and nettle diet, while the activator protein1 (AP-1) DNA binding activity showed a more profound elevation in the nettle treated animals. The amount of c-Jun decreased by swimming training. In conclusion, the results suggest that both exercise and nettle influenced physiological brain functions. Nettle supplementation reduces the free radical concentration and increases the DNA binding of AP-1 in the brain. Nettle was found to be an effective antioxidant and possible antiapoptotic supplement promoting cell survival in the brain. Exercise, as a downregulator of c-Jun and in combined group as an upregulator of NF-κB, may play also a role in antiapoptotic processes, which is important after brain injury.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)487-493
Number of pages7
JournalBrain Research Bulletin
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2005 May 30
Externally publishedYes


  • AP-1
  • BDNF
  • Exercise
  • NF-κB
  • NGF
  • Stinging nettle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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