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Am J Physiol. 1999 Jun;276(6):E1083-91. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.1999.276.6.E1083.

A marathon run increases the susceptibility of LDL to oxidation in vitro and modifies plasma antioxidants.

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Division of Endocrinology and Diabetology, Department of Medicine, Helsinki University Central Hospital, FIN-00029 HUCH, Helsinki, Finland.


Physical activity increases the production of oxygen free radicals, which may consume antioxidants and oxidize low-density lipoprotein (LDL). To determine whether this occurs during strenuous aerobic exercise, we studied 11 well-trained runners who participated in the Helsinki City Marathon. Blood samples were collected before, immediately after, and 4 days after the race to determine its effect on circulating antioxidants and LDL oxidizability in vitro. LDL oxidizability was increased as determined from a reduction in the lag time for formation of conjugated dienes both immediately after (180 +/- 7 vs. 152 +/- 4 min, P < 0.001) and 4 days after (155 +/- 7 min, P < 0.001) the race. No significant changes in lipid-soluble antioxidants in LDL or in the peak LDL particle size were observed after the race. Total peroxyl radical trapping antioxidant capacity of plasma (TRAP) and uric acid concentrations were increased after the race, but, except for TRAP, these changes disappeared within 4 days. Plasma thiol concentrations were reduced after the race. No significant changes were observed in plasma ascorbic acid, alpha-tocopherol, beta-carotene, and retinol concentrations after the marathon race. We conclude that strenuous aerobic exercise increases the susceptibility of LDL to oxidation in vitro for up to 4 days. Although the increase in the concentration of plasma TRAP reflects an increase of plasma antioxidant capacity, it seems insufficient to prevent the increased susceptibility of LDL to oxidation in vitro, which was still observed 4 days after the race.

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