Biomarker Response to a Competitive Season in Division I Female Soccer Players

J Strength Cond Res. 2019 Oct;33(10):2622-2628. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000003264.


Walker, AJ, McFadden, BA, Sanders, DJ, Rabideau, MM, Hofacker, ML, and Arent, SM. Biomarker response to a competitive season in Division I female soccer players. J Strength Cond Res 33(10): 2622-2628, 2019-The purpose of this study was to evaluate effects of training load (TL) on performance and biomarkers of health, performance, and recovery in Division I female soccer players throughout a competitive season. Subjects (N = 25, Mage = 20 ± 1.1 years) were monitored before the start of preseason and every 4-weeks thereafter (T1-T5). A battery of performance tests was administered before the start of preseason (P1) and end-of-season (P2), including body composition (percent body fat [%BF], fat free mass [FFM], and fat mass), vertical jump (VJ), and VO2max. Blood draws were conducted at every time point (T1-T5) to assess free and total cortisol (CORTF and CORTT), prolactin (PRL), T3, IL-6, creatine kinase (CK), sex-hormone binding globulin, omega-3 (n-3FA), vitamin-D (Vit-D), iron (Fe), hematocrit (HcT), ferritin (Fer), percent saturation (%Sat), and total iron-binding capacity (TIBC). Daily exercise energy expenditure (EEE) and TL were determined. There were significant declines in VO2max, VJ, weight, and %BF from P1-P2 (p < 0.05) with no significant differences in FFM. Training load and EEE significantly decreased from T1-T3 (p < 0.05). Significant increases were seen in CORTT, CORTF, PRL, T3, IL-6, CK, and TIBC throughout the season (p < 0.05). Significant decreases were seen in n-3FA, Fe, Fer, %Sat, and Hct throughout the season (p < 0.05). Female athletes experience significant physiological changes following high TL and EEE associated with preseason and appear to be further exacerbated by the cumulative effects of the season. Unique insights provided by biomarkers enable athletes and coaches to be cognizant of the physiological changes that are occurring throughout the season.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Athletic Performance / physiology*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Body Composition
  • Body Weight
  • Creatine Kinase / blood
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Test
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / blood
  • Female
  • Ferritins / blood
  • Hematocrit
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Iron / blood
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Physical Conditioning, Human / physiology
  • Physical Exertion / physiology*
  • Prolactin / blood
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin / metabolism
  • Soccer / physiology*
  • Triiodothyronine / blood
  • Vitamin D / blood
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • IL6 protein, human
  • Interleukin-6
  • SHBG protein, human
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin
  • Triiodothyronine
  • Vitamin D
  • Prolactin
  • Ferritins
  • Iron
  • Creatine Kinase
  • Oxygen
  • Hydrocortisone