High voltage electric potentials to enhance brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels in the brain

Hiroji Yanamoto, Yukako Nakajo, Hiroharu Kataoka, Koji Iihara

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Citation (Scopus)


Development of a safe method to increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels in the brain is expected to enhance learning and memory, induce tolerance to cerebral infarction or tolerance to depressive state, improve glucose metabolism, and suppress appetite and body weight. We have shown that repetitive applications of high-voltage electric potential (HELP) to the body increase BDNF levels in the brain, improving learning and memory in mice. Here, we investigated the effects of HELP treatment for a chronic period on the BDNF levels in the mouse brain, and on body weight in mice and humans. Adult mice were exposed to 3.1 or 5.4 kV HELP (on the body), 5 h a day for 24 weeks, and BDNF levels in the brain and alterations in body weight were analyzed. Humans [age, 53.2 ± 15.5 years old; BMI, 27.8 ± 5.6 (mean ± SD, n = 6)] were exposed to 3.9 kV HELP (on the body) for 1 h a day, continuing for 33 months (2.8 years) under the monitor of body weight. In mice, the HELP application elevated BDNF levels in the brain at least temporarily, affecting body weight in a voltage- and time-dependent manner. In humans, the HELP treatment reduced body weight compared to the pretreated initial values without any aversive effects (p < 0.002, one-way ANOVA with the post hoc Holm-Sidak test). The results in mice indicated that 3.1 kV HELP was considered insufficient for a continuous elevation of intracerebral BDNF, and 5.4 kV HELP was considered as excessive. HELP with an appropriate voltage can be utilized to increase BDNF levels in the brain for a prolonged period. We anticipate further investigations to clarify the effect of the optimal-leveled HELP therapy on memory disturbances, neurological deficits after stroke, depression, diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationClinical Recovery from CNS Damage
PublisherS. Karger AG
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9783318023084
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Publication series

NameFrontiers of Neurology and Neuroscience
ISSN (Print)1660-4431
ISSN (Electronic)1662-2804

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology


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