Substances of abuse and the blood brain barrier: Interactions with physical exercise

Marta A. Małkiewicz, Andrzej Małecki, Michal Toborek, Arkadiusz Szarmach, Paweł J. Winklewski

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Substance use disorders pose a common medical, social and financial problem. Among the pathomechanisms of substance use disorders, the disruption and increased permeability of the blood-brain barrier has been recently revealed. Physical exercise appears to be a relatively inexpensive and feasible way to implement behavioral therapy counteracting the blood-brain barrier impairment. Concomitantly, there are also studies supporting a potential protective role of selected substances of abuse in maintaining the blood-brain barrier integrity. In this review, we aim to provide a summary on the modulatory influence of physical exercise, a non-pharmacological intervention, on the blood-brain barrier alterations caused by substances of abuse. Further studies are needed to understand the precise mechanisms that underlie various effects of physical exercise in substance use disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)204-216
Number of pages13
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
StatePublished - Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Blood brain barrier
  • Physical exercise
  • Substances of abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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