Recovery of endocrine and inflammatory mediators following an extended energy deficit

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2014 Mar;99(3):956-64. doi: 10.1210/jc.2013-3046. Epub 2013 Dec 11.


Context: Due to current operational requirements, elite soldiers deploy quickly after completing arduous training courses. Therefore, it is imperative that endocrine and inflammatory mediators have fully recovered.

Objective: Our objective was to determine whether a short-term (2-6 wk) recovery period was sufficient to restore endocrine and inflammatory homeostasis after sustained energy deficit.

Design: Before and immediately after the course, serum concentrations of inflammatory and endocrine markers were taken along with anthropometric measures prior to and immediately after the Army Ranger course. In addition, nine soldiers were assessed between 2 and 6 weeks after the course.

Setting: This research occurred in a field setting during an intensive 8-week military training course characterized by high-energy expenditure, energy restriction, and sleep deprivation (U.S. Army Ranger School).

Participants: Twenty-three male soldiers (23.0 ± 2.8 y; 177.6 ± 7.9 cm; 81.0 ± 9.6 kg, 16.8 ± 3.9% body fat) participated in this study.

Interventions: There were no interventions used in this research.

Outcome measures and results: Significant changes occurred in circulating total testosterone (-70%), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (-33%), total IGF-1 (-38.7%), free IGF-1 (-41%), IGF binding protein (IGFBP-6; -23.4%), sex-hormone binding globulin (+46%), thyroid stimulating hormone (+85%), IGFBP-1 (+534.4%), IGFBP-2 (+98.3%), IGFBP-3 (+14.7%), IL-4 (+135%), IL-6 (+217%), and IL-8 (+101%). Significant changes in body mass (-8%), bicep (-14%), forearm (-5%), thigh (-7%), and calf (-2%) circumferences, sum of skinfolds (-52%), and percentage body fat (-54%). All anthropometric, inflammatory, and hormonal values, except T3, were restored to baseline levels within 2-6 weeks after the course.

Conclusions: Endocrine markers and anthropometric measures were degraded, and inflammatory mediators increased after an extended energy deficit. A short-term recovery of 2-6 weeks was sufficient to restore these mediators.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Caloric Restriction*
  • Cytokines / blood
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Food Deprivation
  • Hormones / blood*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / blood*
  • Male
  • Military Personnel*
  • Recovery of Function*
  • Sleep Deprivation / blood
  • Sleep Deprivation / rehabilitation
  • Starvation / blood
  • Starvation / rehabilitation
  • Young Adult


  • Cytokines
  • Hormones
  • Inflammation Mediators