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Sports Med. 2014 Mar;44(3):369-85. doi: 10.1007/s40279-013-0119-9.

S100B as a marker for brain damage and blood-brain barrier disruption following exercise.

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Department of Physiology, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Republic of Singapore.

Erratum in

  • Sports Med. 2014 Jun;44(6):867.



S100B level in the blood has been used as a marker for brain damage and blood-brain barrier (BBB) disruption. Elevations of S100B levels after exercise have been observed, suggesting that the BBB may be compromised during exercise. However, an increase in S100B levels may be confounded by other variables.


The primary objective of this review was to compile findings on the relationship between S100B and exercise in order to determine if this protein is a valid marker for BBB disruptions during exercise. The secondary objective was to consolidate known factors causing S100B increases that may give rise to inaccurate interpretations of S100B levels.


PubMed, Web of Science and ScienceDirect were searched for relevant studies up to January 2013, in which S100B measurements were taken after a bout of exercise. Animal studies were excluded. Variables of interest such as the type of activity, exercise intensities, duration, detection methods, presence and extent of head trauma were examined and compiled.


This review included 23 studies; 15 (65 %) reported S100B increases after exercise, and among these, ten reported S100B increases regardless of intervention, while five reported increases in only some trials but not others. Eight (35 %) studies reported no increases in S100B levels across all trials. Most baseline S100B levels fall below 0.16 μg/L, with an increase in S100B levels of less than 0.07 μg/L following exercise. Factors that are likely to affect S100B levels include exercise intensity, and duration, presence and extent of head trauma. Several other probable factors influencing S100B elevations are muscle breakdown, level of training and oxidative stress, but current findings are still weak and inconclusive.


Elevated S100B levels have been recorded following exercise and are mostly attributed to either an increase in BBB permeability or trauma to the head. However, even in the absence of head trauma, it appears that the BBB may be compromised following exercise, with the severity dependent on exercise intensity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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