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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2014 Feb 15;306(4):H557-63. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00711.2013. Epub 2013 Dec 20.

Circulating microRNAs as potential biomarkers of aerobic exercise capacity.

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Department of Sports Medicine, Institute of Sports Sciences, Justus-Liebig-University, Giessen, Germany; and.


Purpose microRNAs (miRs) are crucial intracellular mediators of various biological processes, also affecting the cardiovascular system. Recently, it has been shown that miRs circulate extracellularly in the bloodstream and that such circulating miRs change in response to physical activity. Therefore, the purpose of the current study was to investigate heart/muscle specific and inflammation related miRs in plasma of individuals before, directly after, and 24 h after a marathon run and to analyze their relation to conventional biochemical, cardiovascular, and performance indexes. Male endurance athletes (n =14) were recruited for the study after performing a battery of cardiac functional tests. Blood samples were collected before, directly after, and 24 h after a public marathon run. miR-1, miR-133, miR-206, miR-499, miR-208b, miR-21, and miR-155 were measured using individual Taqman assays and normalized to Caenorhabditis elegans miR-39 (cel-39) spike-in control. Moreover, soluble cardiac, inflammatory, and muscle damage markers were determined. As a result, skeletal- and heart muscle-specific miRs showed a significant increase after the marathon. The strongest increase was observed for miR-206. Twenty-four hours after the run, only miR-499 and miR-208b were returned to preexercise levels, whereas the others were still enhanced. In contrast, miR-21 and -155 were not affected by exercise. miR-1, -133a, and -206 correlated to aerobic performance parameters such as maximum oxygen uptake (VO(2max)) and running speed at individual anaerobic lactate threshold (VIAS). miR-1 showed a moderate negative correlation with fractional shortening, whereas miR-133a was positively related to the thickness of intraventricular septum. None of the miRs correlated with cardiac injury markers such as troponin T, troponin I, and pro-brain natriuretic peptide. In conclusion, these findings suggest a potential role for muscle- and heart-specific miRs in cardiovascular adaptation processes after endurance exercise. Moreover, the specific correlation of miR-1, -133a, and -206 to performance parameters indicated their potential role as biomarkers of aerobic capacity.


adaptation; cardiovascular system; marathon run; maximum oxygen uptake

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