Metabolomics-Based Studies Assessing Exercise-Induced Alterations of the Human Metabolome: A Systematic Review

Metabolites. 2019 Aug 9;9(8):164. doi: 10.3390/metabo9080164.


This systematic review provides a qualitative appraisal of 24 high-quality metabolomics-based studies published over the past decade exploring exercise-induced alterations of the human metabolome. Of these papers, 63% focused on acute metabolite changes following intense and prolonged exercise. The best studies utilized liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) analytical platforms with large chemical standard libraries and strong, multivariate bioinformatics support. These studies reported large-fold changes in diverse lipid-related metabolites, with more than 100 increasing two-fold or greater within a few hours post-exercise. Metabolite shifts, even after strenuous exercise, typically return to near pre-exercise levels after one day of recovery. Few studies investigated metabolite changes following acute exercise bouts of shorter durations (< 60 min) and workload volumes. Plasma metabolite shifts in these types of studies are modest in comparison. More cross-sectional and exercise training studies are needed to improve scientific understanding of the human system's response to varying, chronic exercise workloads. The findings derived from this review provide direction for future investigations focused on the body's metabolome response to exercise.

Keywords: exercise; metabolism; metabolomics; sports.

Publication types

  • Review