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No Indications of Persistent Oxidative Stress in Response to an Ironman Triathlon


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: December 2008 - Volume 40 - Issue 12 - p 2119-2128
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181824dab
BASIC SCIENCES: Original Investigations

Introduction: Training for and competing in ultraendurance exercise events is associated with an improvement in endogenous antioxidant defenses as well as increased oxidative stress. However, consequences on health are currently unclear.

Purpose: We aimed to examine the impact of training- and acute exercise-induced changes in the antioxidant capacity on the oxidant/antioxidant balance after an ironman triathlon and whether there are indications for sustained oxidative damage.

Methods: Blood samples were taken from 42 well-trained male triathletes 2 d before an ironman triathlon, then immediately postrace, 1, 5, and 19 d later. Blood was analyzed for conjugated dienes (CD), malondialdehyde (MDA), oxidized low-density lipoprotein (oxLDL), oxLDL:LDL ratio, advanced oxidation protein products (AOPP), AOPP:total protein (TP) ratio, Trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity (TEAC), uric acid (UA) in plasma, and activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px), and catalase (CAT) in erythrocytes.

Results: Immediately postrace, there were significant increases in CD, AOPP, TEAC, UA (for all P < 0.001), and AOPP:TP (P < 0.01). MDA rose significantly (P < 0.01) 1 d postrace, whereas CD (P < 0.01), AOPP (P = 0.01), AOPP:TP (P < 0.05), and TEAC (P < 0.001) remained elevated. OxLDL:LDL trended to increase, whereas oxLDL significantly (P < 0.01) decreased 1 d postrace. Except for GSH-Px (P = 0.08), activities of SOD (P < 0.001) and CAT (P < 0.05) significantly decreased postrace. All oxidative stress markers had returned to prerace values 5 d postrace. Furthermore, several relationships between training status and oxidative stress markers, TEAC, and antioxidant enzyme activities were noted.

Conclusions: This study indicates that despite a temporary increase in most (but not all) oxidative stress markers, there is no persistent oxidative stress in response to an ironman triathlon, probably due to training- and exercise-induced protective alterations in the antioxidant defense system.

1Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Vienna, AUSTRIA; and 2Centre for Internal Medicine, Division of Rehabilitation, Prevention and Sports Medicine, Freiburg University Hospital, GERMANY

Address for correspondence: Karl-Heinz Wagner, Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Vienna, Althanstraße 14, 1090 Vienna, Austria; E-mail:

Submitted for publication February 2008.

Accepted for publication June 2008.

©2008The American College of Sports Medicine