Platelets Can Replicate Benefits of Exercise

Pre-clinical trials by University of Queensland researchers have found an injection of a specific blood factor can replicate the benefits of exercise in the brain.

Dr Odette Leiter and Dr Tara Walker from UQ’s Queensland Brain Institute led a team which discovered platelets, the tiny blood cells critical for blood clotting, secrete a protein that rejuvenates neurons in aged mice in a similar way to physical exercise.

The researchers focused on exerkines, the biological compounds released into the bloodstream during exercise, which are believed to stimulate the exercise-induced response in the brain.

“We discovered that the exerkine CXCL4/Platelet factor 4 or PF4, which is released from platelets after exercise, results in regenerative and cognitive improvements when injected into aged mice,” Dr Leiter said.

“We can now target platelets to promote neurogenesis, enhance cognition and counteract age-related cognitive decline.”

The researchers said the next step is to test the response in Alzheimer diseased mice, before moving towards human trials.

The study is published in Nature Communications.


Odette Leiter, David Brici, Stephen J. Fletcher, Xuan Ling Hilary Yong, Jocelyn Widagdo, Nicholas Matigian, Adam B. Schroer, Gregor Bieri, Daniel G. Blackmore, Perry F. Bartlett, Victor Anggono, Saul A. Villeda, Tara L. Walker. Platelet-derived exerkine CXCL4/platelet factor 4 rejuvenates hippocampal neurogenesis and restores cognitive function in aged mice. Nature Communications, 2023; 14 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-39873-9

University of Queensland. (2023, August 17). Platelets can replicate the benefits of exercise in the brain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 18, 2023 from

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