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Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2017 Nov;42(11):1135-1141. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2016-0717. Epub 2017 Jun 30.

The impact of moderate altitude on exercise metabolism in recreational sportsmen: a nuclear magnetic resonance metabolomic approach.

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a Laboratoire Européen Performance Santé Altitude EA4604 - Université de Perpignan Via Domitia, Département STAPS, 7 Avenue Pierre de Coubertin, Font-Romeu, France.
b Unité de Biologie Intégrative et Adaptation à l'Exercice, EA 7362, Université d'Evry Val D'Essonne, Evry, France.
c Chimie Structures Propriétés de Biomatériaux et d'Agents Thérapeutiques, CNRS UMR 7244, Université Paris 13 Sorbonne Paris Cité, Bobigny, France.
d Facultat de Medicina, Universitat de Girona, C/Emili Grahit 77, Girona, Spain.


Although it is known that altitude impairs performance in endurance sports, there is no consensus on the involvement of energy substrates in this process. The objective of the present study was to determine whether the metabolomic pathways used during endurance exercise differ according to whether the effort is performed at sea level or at moderate altitude (at the same exercise intensity, using proton nuclear magnetic resonance, 1H NMR). Twenty subjects performed two 60-min endurance exercise tests at sea level and at 2150 m at identical relative intensity on a cycle ergometer. Blood plasma was obtained from venous blood samples drawn before and after exercise. 1H NMR spectral analysis was then performed on the plasma samples. A multivariate statistical technique was applied to the NMR data. The respective relative intensities of the sea level and altitude endurance tests were essentially the same when expressed as a percentage of the maximal oxygen uptake measured during the corresponding incremental maximal exercise test. Lipid use was similar at sea level and at altitude. In the plasma, levels of glucose, glutamine, alanine, and branched-chain amino acids had decreased after exercise at altitude but not after exercise at sea level. The decrease in plasma glucose and free amino acid levels observed after exercise at altitude indicated that increased involvement of the protein pathway was necessary but not sufficient for the maintenance of glycaemia. Metabolomics is a powerful means of gaining insight into the metabolic changes induced by exercise at altitude.


altitude; exercice physique; exercise; metabolism; metabolomics; métabolisme; métabolomique; nuclear magnetic resonance; plasma; résonance magnétique nucléaire

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