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Clinical Trial
. 2019 Jan 18;14(1):e0210651.
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0210651. eCollection 2019.

Muscle and Intestinal Damage in Triathletes

Free PMC article
Clinical Trial

Muscle and Intestinal Damage in Triathletes

Łukasz Tota et al. PLoS One. .
Free PMC article


The aim of the paper was to assess indicators of muscle and intestinal damage in triathletes. The study involved 15 triathletes whose objective for the season was to start in the XTERRA POLAND 2017 event (1,500-m swimming, 36-km cycling, and 10-km mountain running). Before the 14-week preparatory period, the competitors' body composition was measured, aerobic capacity was tested (graded treadmill test) and blood samples were collected to determine markers showing the level of muscle and intestinal damage. Subsequent tests for body composition were carried out before and after the competition. Blood samples for biochemical indicators were collected the day before the competition, after the completed race, and 24 and 48 hours later. A significant decrease in body mass was observed after completing the race (-3.1±1.5%). The mean maximal oxygen uptake level among the studied athletes equalled 4.9±0.4 L·min-1, 58.8±4.5 mL·kg-1·min-1. The significant increase in concentrations of cortisol, c-reactive protein and myoglobin after the competition, significantly correlated with the significant increase in zonulin concentration (post 1h: r = 0.88, p = 0.007, r = 0,79, p = 0.001, r = 0.78, p = 0.001, and post 12h: r = 0.75, p = 0.01, r = 0.71, p = 0.011, r = 0.83, p = 0.02). No significant changes in the concentration of tumour necrosis factor alpha among the examined competitors were noted at following stages of the study. The results of our research showed that in order to monitor overload in the training of triathletes, useful markers reflecting the degree of muscle and intestinal damage include cortisol, testosterone, testosterone to cortisol ratio, c-reactive protein, myoglobin and zonulin. Changes in muscle cell damage markers strongly correlated with changes in zonulin concentration at particular stages of the study. Thus, one can expect that the concentrations of markers depicting the level of muscle cell damage after an intense and long-lasting effort will significantly influence the level of the intestinal barrier.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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