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IGF-I, IGFBPs, and Inflammatory Cytokine Responses During Gender-Integrated Israeli Army Basic Combat Training

Nindl, Bradley C.1; Scofield, Dennis E.1; Strohbach, Cassandra A.1; Centi, Amanda J.1; Evans, Rachel K.1; Yanovich, Ran2; Moran, Daniel S.2,3

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research:
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31825d81ba
Original Research

Abstract: Nindl, BC, Scofield, DE, Strohbach, CA, Centi, AJ, Evans, RK, Yanovich, R, Moran, DS. IGF-I, IGFBPs, and inflammatory cytokine responses during gender-integrated Israeli Army basic combat training. J Strength Cond Res 26(7): S73–S81, 2012—Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-I) is a robust metabolic and anabolic biomarker that has been demonstrated to be reflective of military training–induced body composition changes and influenced by initial aerobic fitness level. Greater mechanistic insight into the IGF-I response to physical training can potentially be gleaned by also examining other regulatory factors that influence IGF-I biological activity (i.e., insulin-like growth factor–binding proteins [IGFBPs] and inflammatory cytokine responses). The purpose of this study was to assess the influence of sex and initial fitness level on the IGF-I and inflammatory cytokine response to gender-integrated Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) basic combat training (BCT). Recruits (29 men, 19.1 ± 1.3 years; 93 women, 18.8 ± 0.6 years) were recruited from a 4-month gender-integrated BCT of the IDF. Blood was drawn and assayed for total IGF-I, free IGF-I, IGFBPs 1-6, tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), interleukin 6, and interleukin 1 beta. Body composition was determined via a 4-site skinfold (biceps, triceps, suprailiac, and subscapular) equation. Physical performance was assessed via a maximum volume of oxygen consumption (V[Combining Dot Above]O2max) test using a treadmill protocol. All measures were obtained pre- and posttraining. A 2-way (sex × time) analysis of variance was used to test for statistical differences (p ≤ 0.05). Additionally, subjects were further partitioned (men and women separately) by tertiles of initial V[Combining Dot Above]O2max to assess the influence of initial fitness level on the IGF-I system and inflammatory cytokine responses to physical training. Pearson product moment correlational analysis was also used to examine relationships between percent changes in blood measures and physical performance and body composition changes. All data are presented as mean ± SE. Time effects were observed only for total IGF-I, IGFBP-2, TNF-α, V[Combining Dot Above]O2max, fat-free mass, and fat mass. The only significant (p ≤ 0.05) correlations observed for percent changes were in men between total IGF-I and V[Combining Dot Above]O2max (r = 0.49) and body mass (r = −0.42) During gender-integrated Israeli Army BCT, men and women generally respond in a similar fashion with regard to blood measures (IGF-I system and inflammatory cytokines) and V[Combining Dot Above]O2max. Initial fitness level only influenced the IGF-I response to training in women. Although the training-induced changes in total IGF-I (increase), IGFBP-2 (decrease), and TNF-α (decrease) are all indicative of an enhanced circulating anabolic milieu, only total IGF-I for the men was correlated with body composition and fitness improvements.

Author Information

1Military Performance Division, The United States Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Natick, Massachusetts

2Heller Institute of Medical Research, Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, Israel

3Faculty of Health Sciences, Ariel University Center of Samaria, Israel

Address correspondence to Dr. Bradley C. Nindl,

Copyright © 2012 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.