Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw’s®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 16 No. 3 • March 2013

Mild Exercise Increases Dihydrotestosterone
Evidence for Androgenic Mediation of Neurogenesis

A 2012 paper1 reports that, in male animals, mild exercise enhances hippocampal synthesis of dihydrotestosterone and increases adult hippocampal neurogenesis as a result of androgenic action.

The paper begins its introduction by explaining that testosterone (T) and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) exert neuroprotective effect via androgen receptors in the hippocampus. Interestingly, current studies have shown that androgens can be synthesized in the hippocampus, not only be (as generally understood previously) androgen production in the testes and distribution to the brain by the bloodstream. Moreover, the beneficial effects of exercise on cognition and mood (such as results from mild exercise on wheel and treadmill running exercise) may be mediated by exercise-induced neurogenesis in adults. The authors developed a mild exercise using a treadmill that didn’t result in lactate production and produced minimal stress. They further showed that that amount of mild exercise was able to induce hippocampal neuronal activity and neurogenesis.1

The researchers then examined the effects of 2 weeks of this mild exercise on androgen levels in hippocampus and adult hippocampal neurogenesis. They found that treatment with an androgen receptor antagonist resulted in suppression of the exercise-induced neurogenesis, indicating a causal involvement of androgens in the neurogenesis resulting from the mild exercise. The researchers discussing the results, speculated “[b]ecause the injection of testosterone has been shown to reduce deposits of beta-amyloid protein in vitro through the enhanced effects of neprilysin, it might be that mild exercise, in mediating paracrine effects through androgens and/or DHT [dihydrotestosterone] may, in turn, also reduce the deposits of beta-amyloid protein and protect cognitive functions.”1


  1. Okamoto et al. Mild exercise increases dihydrotestosterone in hippocampus providing evidence for androgenic mediation of neurogenesis. Proc Nat Acad Sci USA. 109(32):13100-5 (2012).

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