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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Apr 29;100(9):5119-23. Epub 2003 Apr 17.

Plasma antioxidant status and cell injury after severe physical exercise.

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  • 1Heller Institute of Medical Research, Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer 52621, Israel.


Strenuous exercise leads to an increase in metabolic rate, increased production of reactive oxygen species, and compromised antioxidant defense systems. To study the effects of oxidative stress during strenuous exercise, a homogeneous group of 31 male subjects participated in a 6-month, 5 days/week training schedule involving two extreme marches of 50 km and 80 km at sea level, separated by 2 weeks of regular training. Each participant carried 35 kg of extra weight. Blood samples were drawn immediately before and after each march. Twenty-nine subjects completed the 50-km march, and only 16 completed the 80-km march. Plasma levels of reduced ascorbic acid, total ascorbate, and dehydroascorbate did not undergo significant changes during either march. However, the 50- and 80-km marches led to 25% and 37% increases, respectively, in plasma levels of uric acid; due presumably to increases in the metabolic rate and consequent pyrimidine nucleotide metabolism. Both marches led to an approximately 10-fold increase leakage of creatine phosphokinase into the plasma. Likewise, plasma levels of aspartate transaminase, a characteristic marker of liver injury, increased approximately 4-fold. Plasma levels of bilirubin, creatine, urea, and glucose also increased. Plasma protein carbonyl content, a marker of protein oxidative damage, decreased significantly during each march. These results are discussed with respect to the consideration that elevation of the respiration rate during exercise leads to production of more reactive oxygen species than the antioxidant systems can scavenge. Plausible explanations for leakage of molecules into the plasma are discussed.

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