Monitoring mood state is a useful tool for avoiding nonfunctional overreaching. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is implicated in stress-related mood disorders.


To investigate the impact of intensified training-induced mood disturbance on plasma BDNF concentrations at rest and in response to exercise.


Eight cyclists performed 1 wk of normal (NT), 1 wk of intensified (INT), and 1 wk of recovery (REC) training. Fasted blood samples were collected before and after exercise on day 7 of each training week and analyzed for plasma BDNF and cortisol concentrations. A 24-item Profile of Mood State questionnaire was administered on day 7 of each training week, and global mood score (GMS) was calculated.


Time-trial performance was impaired during INT (P = .01) and REC (P = .02) compared with NT. Basal plasma cortisol (NT = 153 ± 16 ng/mL, INT = 130 ± 11 ng/mL, REC = 150 ± 14 ng/ml) and BDNF (NT = 484 ± 122 pg/mL, INT = 488 ± 122 pg/mL, REC = 383 ± 56 pg/mL) concentrations were similar between training conditions. Likewise, similar exercise-induced increases in cortisol and BDNF concentrations were observed between training conditions. GMS was 32% greater during INT vs NT (P < .001).


Consistent with a state of functional overreaching (FOR), impairments in performance and mood state with INT were restored after 1 wk of REC. These results support evidence for mood changes before plasma BDNF concentrations as a biochemical marker of FOR and that cortisol is not a useful marker for predicting FOR.

Piacentini is with the Dept of Movement, Human and Health Sciences, University of Rome “Foro Italico,” Rome, Italy. Witard and Tipton are with the Physiology, Exercise and Nutrition Research Group, University of Stirling, Scotland, UK. Tonoli and Meeusen are with the Dept of Human Physiology and Sportsmedicine, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium. Jackman is with the College of Life and Environmental Sciences, Exeter University, Exeter, UK. Turner is with the Dept for Health, University of Bath, Bath, UK. Kies is with DSM Biotechnology Center, Delft, The Netherlands. Jeukendrup is with the School of Sports Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK.

Address author correspondence to Romain Meeusen at