Effects of competitive physical activity on serum irisin levels and bone turnover markers

J Endocrinol Invest. 2021 Oct;44(10):2235-2241. doi: 10.1007/s40618-021-01529-0. Epub 2021 Mar 6.


Background: Irisin, a myokine, is a polypeptide derived from the cleavage of the extracellular domain of fibronectin domain-containing protein 5, a receptor that is present on different tissues (skeletal muscle, pericardium, myocardium, and brain), whose functions are not yet fully defined.

Purpose: The main aim of our study was to evaluate the effect of competitive physical activity on serum irisin levels and bone turnover markers.

Methods: Fifteen male footballers and an equal number of subjects of the same age and gender, but with a predominantly sedentary lifestyle, had their serum levels of irisin and bone turnover markers measured. Bone mineral status was evaluated in both groups by quantitative bone ultrasound of the calcaneus. In addition, only in footballers, biochemical analyses were repeated after 3 months.

Results: We did not observe significant differences in the serum levels of calcium, phosphorus, and parathyroid hormone between the two groups. The footballers had significantly higher quantitative bone ultrasound, 25-OH vitamin D, and creatinine values than the controls. There were also no significant differences in the bone alkaline phosphatase, carboxy-terminal telopeptide of type I collagen, osteoprotegerin, sclerostin or Dkk-1 values, while the irisin levels (+ 89%, p < 0.001) and RANKL were significantly higher in the footballers compared to those in the controls.

Conclusion: Our study shows that footballers have significantly higher serum irisin values than the general population. Irisin could be the "trait d'union" between bone health and physical activity.

Keywords: Bone; Football; Irisin; Muscle; Myokines; Physical activity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Athletic Performance / physiology*
  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • Bone Remodeling*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Fibronectins / blood*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Football / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prognosis
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • FNDC5 protein, human
  • Fibronectins