Prolonged depletion of antioxidant capacity after ultraendurance exercise

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PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to examine the short- and long-term (up to 1 month) effects of an ultraendurance running event on redox homeostasis.

METHODS: Markers of oxidative stress and antioxidant capacity in peripheral blood were assessed after a single-stage 233-km (143 miles) running event. Samples were collected from nine men (mean±SD: age=46.1±5.3 yr, body mass index=24.9±2.3 kg·m⁻², maximal oxygen uptake=56.3±3.3 mL·kg⁻¹·min⁻¹). Peripheral blood mononuclear cells were assayed for nonspecific DNA damage (frank strand breaks) and damage to DNA caused specifically by oxidative stress (formamidopyrimidine DNA glycosylase-dependent damage). Protein carbonylation and lipid peroxidation were assessed in plasma. Reduced glutathione (GSH) was measured in whole blood.

RESULTS: Peripheral blood mononuclear cell frank strand breaks were elevated above baseline at 24 h after the race (P<0.001). Formamidopyrimidine DNA glycosylase-dependent oxidative DNA damage was increased immediately after the race (P<0.05). Protein carbonylation remained elevated for 7 d after the race (P<0.04), whereas lipid peroxidation was increased for 24 h (P<0.05) and fell below baseline 28 d later (P<0.05). GSH, a measure of antioxidant capacity, also showed a biphasic response, increasing by one-third after the race (P<0.01) and falling to two-thirds of baseline levels 24 h later (P<0.001). GSH remained depleted to approximately one-third of prerace values 28 d after the race (P<0.01).

CONCLUSIONS: Ultraendurance exercise causes oxidative stress, which persists for one calendar month depending on the specific biomarker examined. These results suggest that ultraendurance events are associated with a prolonged period of reduced protection against oxidative stress.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1770-1776
Number of pages7
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2011


  • Antioxidants, DNA Damage, DNA-Formamidopyrimidine Glycosylase, Exercise, Glutathione, Humans, Leukocytes, Mononuclear, Lipid Peroxidation, Male, Oxidation-Reduction, Oxidative Stress, Physical Endurance, Protein Carbonylation, Running