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Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2005 Nov;63(5):530-6.

Adaptation of the hypothalamic-pituitary hormones during intensive endurance training.

Author information

1
Department of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Nutrition, Charité University Medicine Berlin, Campus Benjamin Franklin, Germany. thomas.bobbert@charite.de

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Physical activity leads to changes in the hypothalamic-pituitary hormonal system. However, acute and long-term adaptations have not yet been precisely characterized. In this study, the changes of the hormonal system as a result of marathon training and running a marathon were examined. In particular, we focused on adaptations of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis, regarding the activation or inactivation of cortisol to cortisone by the 11beta-hydroxysteroid-dehydrogenase system (11beta-HSD).

DESIGN:

Patient measurements: 8 healthy women and 11 healthy men volunteered for this study. Blood samples, 24-h urine and a dexamethasone suppression test were analysed for metabolic and hormonal parameters at five different dates 12 weeks around a marathon.

RESULTS:

Cortisol and ACTH values decreased significantly 2 days after the marathon, whereas the activity of the whole body 11beta-HSD-1 was up-regulated. An increased suppression of cortisol levels was observed in the dexamethasone suppression test after 6 weeks of reduced training levels. Ghrelin was elevated 2 days after the marathon. Only minor changes in the other hypothalamic-pituitary-hormonal axes could be observed. However, the free androgen index increased significantly after 6 weeks of reduced training.

CONCLUSIONS:

The HPA system appeared to become chronically activated by continuous physical training and therefore less sensitive to the dexamethasone suppression test. The acute stress of the marathon led to a central exhaustion of the HPA system with a paracrine counteraction by the activation of the 11beta-HSD system. Changes in the other hypothalamic-pituitary hormonal axes were the result of long-term differences in training levels and were not altered by the marathon.

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