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Research article2009Peer reviewedOpen access

Metabolic stress-like condition can be induced by prolonged strenuous exercise in athletes

Branth, Stefan; Hambraeus, Leif; Piehl-Aulin, Karin; Essen-Gustavsson, Birgitta; Akerfeldt, Torbjoern; Olsson, Roger; Stridsberg, Mats; Ronquist, Gunnar


Few studies have examined energy metabolism during prolonged, strenuous exercise. We wanted therefore to investigate energy metabolic consequences of a prolonged period of continuous strenuous work with very high energy expenditure. Twelve endurance-trained athletes (6 males and 6 females) were recruited. They performed a 7-h bike race on high work-load intensity. Physiological, biochemical, endocrinological, and anthropometric muscular compartment variables were monitored before, during, and after the race. The energy expenditure was high, being 5557 kcal. Work-load intensity (% of VO2 peak) was higher in females (77.7%) than in men (69.9%). Muscular glycogen utilization was pronounced, especially in type I fibres (90%). Additionally, muscular triglyceride lipolysis was considerably accelerated. Plasma glucose levels were increased concomitantly with an unchanged serum insulin concentration which might reflect an insulin resistance state in addition to proteolytic glyconeogenesis. Increased reactive oxygen species (malondialdehyde (MDA)) were additional signs of metabolic stress. MDA levels correlated with glycogen utilization rate. A relative deficiency of energy substrate on a cellular level was indicated by increased intracellular water of the leg muscle concomitantly with increased extracellular levels of the osmoregulatory amino acid taurine. A kindred nature of a presumed insulin-resistant state with less intracellular availability of glucose for erythrocytes was also indicated by the findings of decreased MCV together with increased MCHC (haemoconcentration) after the race. This strenuous energy-demanding work created a metabolic stress-like condition including signs of insulin resistance and deteriorated intracellular glucose availability leading to compromised fuelling of ion pumps, culminating in a disturbed cellular osmoregulation indicated by taurine efflux and cellular swelling.


Cellular swelling; energy expenditure; lipid peroxidation; metabolism; myocytes; taurine efflux

Published in

Upsala Journal of Medical Sciences
2009, Volume: 114, number: 1, pages: 12-25

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Animal and Dairy Science
    Veterinary Science

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