Introduction: According to the central fatigue hypothesis, serotonin (5-HT) is related to fatigue, whereas the noradrenergic system is primarily concerned with arousal and motivation, and therefore hypothesized to enhance performance. The purpose of the present study was to examine the effects of a selective noradrenergic reuptake inhibitor (reboxetine 2 x 4 mg REB-NARI) on exercise performance.
Methods: Seven healthy well-trained male cyclists (age: 23 +/- 1.7 yr, height: 182 +/- 5.8 cm, weight: 73.5 +/- 8.5 kg, VO2max: 73.5 +/- 6.4 mL x kg(-1) x min(-1), Watt(max): 376 +/- 11.7 W) participated to the study. Subjects completed two endurance tests (time trials) starting at 65% Wmax in a double-blind randomized cross-over design. Blood samples were collected for adrenocorticotropin, prolactin, cortisol, growth hormone (GH), beta-endorphins, and catecholamines and were taken at 30-min time intervals until the end of exercise. Performance was analyzed with a paired t-test, whereas data for hormonal and metabolic differences during the trials were analyzed using an ANOVA repeated measures design and an LSD-planned comparisons test. Significance level was set at P < 0.05.
Results: Performance was not influenced by the NARI (REB: 97 min +/- 3 min, placebo (PLAC): 92 min +/- 1 min). All hormones increased during exercise except for GH in the REB trial, which was significantly lower than PLAC. The other hormones were significantly higher in the REB trial versus the PLAC trial at the end of exercise and during recovery.
Conclusion: In conclusion, the results demonstrate that the drug had a central effect. In particular, the higher resting GH concentrations indicated a marked and selective noradrenergic effect of REB. However, performance was not influenced by a selective NARI in well-trained endurance athletes.