A triathlon, which consists of swimming, bicycling, and running, is a high-intensity and long-term form of exercise that can cause injuries such as muscular damage, inflammation, oxidative stress, and energy imbalance. Probiotics are thought to play an important role in disease incidence, health promotion, and nutrient metabolism, but only a few studies have focused on physiological adaptations to exercise in sports science. Previous studies indicated that Lactobacillus supplementation could improve oxidative stress and inflammatory responses. We investigate the effects of Lactobacillus plantarum PS128 supplementation on triathletes for possible physiological adaptation. The triathletes were assigned to one of two groups with different exercise intensity stimulations with different time-points to investigate the effects of body compositions, inflammation, oxidative stress, performance, fatigue, and injury-related biochemical indices. L. plantarum PS128 supplementation, combined with training, can significantly alleviate oxidative stress (such as creatine kinase, Thioredoxin, and Myeloperoxidase indices) after a triathlon (p < 0.05). This effect is possibly regulated by a 6⁻13% decrease of indicated pro-inflammation (TNF-α, IL-6, and IL-8) cytokines (p < 0.05) and 55% increase of anti-inflammation (IL-10) cytokines (p < 0.05) after intensive exercise stimulation. In addition, L. plantarum PS128 can also substantially increase 24⁻69% of plasma-branched amino acids (p < 0.05) and elevate exercise performance, as compared to the placebo group (p < 0.05). In conclusion, L. plantarum PS128 may be a potential ergogenic aid for better training management, physiological adaptations to exercise, and health promotion.
Keywords: L. plantarum PS128; inflammation; oxidative stress; performance; triathlon.