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PLoS One. 2015 Sep 15;10(9):e0138376. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0138376. eCollection 2015.

Changes in Serum Free Amino Acids and Muscle Fatigue Experienced during a Half-Ironman Triathlon.

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Exercise Physiology Laboratory, Sports Science Institute, Camilo José Cela University, Madrid, Spain.


The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between changes in serum free amino acids, muscle fatigue and exercise-induced muscle damage during a half-ironman triathlon. Twenty-six experienced triathletes (age = 37.0 ± 6.8 yr; experience = 7.4 ± 3.0 yr) competed in a real half-ironman triathlon in which sector times and total race time were measured by means of chip timing. Before and after the race, a countermovement jump and a maximal isometric force test were performed, and blood samples were withdrawn to measure serum free amino acids concentrations, and serum creatine kinase levels as a blood marker of muscle damage. Total race time was 320 ± 37 min and jump height (-16.3 ± 15.2%, P < 0.001) and isometric force (-14.9 ± 9.8%; P = 0.007) were significantly reduced after the race in all participants. After the race, the serum concentration of creatine kinase increased by 368 ± 187% (P < 0.001). In contrast, the serum concentrations of essential (-27.1 ± 13.0%; P < 0.001) and non-essential amino acids (-24.4 ± 13.1%; P < 0.001) were significantly reduced after the race. The tryptophan/BCAA ratio increased by 42.7 ± 12.7% after the race. Pre-to-post changes in serum free amino acids did not correlate with muscle performance variables or post-race creatine kinase concentration. In summary, during a half-ironman triathlon, serum amino acids concentrations were reduced by > 20%. However, neither the changes in serum free amino acids nor the tryptophan/BCAA ratio were related muscle fatigue or muscle damage during the race.

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