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Exp Physiol. 2002 Jan;87(1):83-9.

Short term aerobic exercise training in young males does not alter sensitivity to a central serotonin agonist.

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School of Health Science, Griffith University, PMB 50, GCMC 9726, Australia.


An increase in the concentration of serotonin in the brain has been shown to cause fatigue during exercise in humans and experimental animals. This type of fatigue is referred to as central fatigue and is likely to be mediated by the concentration of serotonin as well as serotonin receptor sensitivity. Serotonin (5-HT) receptor antagonism in humans and experimental animals has been shown to improve endurance performance. A previous report has shown decreased receptor sensitivity in athletes compared to sedentary controls. It is unclear whether this is due to a training adaptation or if individuals are predisposed to enhanced athletic performance due to their inherent decreased receptor sensitivity. The present study investigated changes in 5-HT receptor sensitivity in response to aerobic exercise. Subjects completed 3 x 30 min of stationary cycling at 70 % of their peak aerobic power (.V(O(2)peak)) for 9 weeks. Serotonin receptor sensitivity was assessed indirectly by measuring the neuroendocrine response following administration of a serotonin agonist (buspirone hydrochloride). The neuroendocrine response following administration of a placebo was also investigated in a blind crossover design. A group of sedentary control subjects was also recruited to control for seasonal variations in central receptor sensitivity. The training caused a significant increase in .V(O(2)peak)) (3.1 +/- 0.16 to 3.6 +/- 0.15 l min(-1), P < 0.05) and endurance capacity (93 +/- 8 to 168 +/- 11 min, P < 0.05), but there was no change (P > 0.05) in the neuroendocrine response in the presence of a serotonin agonist. However, one-quarter of the subjects in the training group demonstrated decreases in receptor sensitivity. These results suggest that despite increases in .V(O(2)peak)) and endurance performance, there was no measurable change in 5-HT receptor sensitivity in the presence of a serotonin agonist. In addition, it is possible that changes in receptor sensitivity may take longer to occur, that the training stimulus used in the present investigation was inadequate and/or that changes occurred in receptor subtypes that were not probed by the agonist used in the present investigation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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