Peripheral signals of energy homeostasis as possible markers of training stress in athletes: a review

Metabolism. 2011 Mar;60(3):335-50. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2010.02.009. Epub 2010 Mar 20.


The importance of physical exercise in regulating energy balance and ultimately body mass is widely recognized. There have been several investigative efforts in describing the regulation of the energy homeostasis. Important in this regulatory system is the existence of several peripheral signals that communicate the status of body energy stores to the hypothalamus including leptin, adiponectin, ghrelin, interleukin-6, interleukin-1β, and tumor necrosis factor-α--different cytokines and other peptides that affect energy homeostasis. In certain circumstances, all these peripheral signals may be used to reveal the condition of the athlete as the result of several months of prolonged exercise training. These hormone and cytokine concentrations characterize a physical stress condition in which different hormone and cytokine responses are apparently linked to changes in physical performance. The possibility to use these peripheral signals as markers of training stress (and possible overreaching/overtraining) in elite athletes should be considered. These measured hormone and cytokine levels could also be used to characterize the physical stress of single exercise session, as the hormone and cytokine response to exercise may actually be a response to the concurrent energy deficit. In summary, different peripheral signals of energy homeostasis may be sensitive to changes in specific training stress and may be useful for predicting the onset of possible overreaching/overtraining in athletes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adiponectin / blood
  • Athletes*
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Ghrelin / blood
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-1beta / blood
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Leptin / blood
  • Physical Fitness / physiology*
  • Stress, Physiological / physiology*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / blood


  • Adiponectin
  • Ghrelin
  • Interleukin-1beta
  • Interleukin-6
  • Leptin
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha