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Medicina dello Sport 2021 June;74(2):261-8

DOI: 10.23736/S0025-7826.21.03594-8

Copyright © 2021 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English, Italian

Multi-year participation in prolonged athletic training is associated with higher risk of chronic fatigue and abnormal serum FGF21 levels in professional athletes

Goran DIMITRIC, Branka PROTIC-GAVA, Patrik DRID, Visnja DJORDJIC, Nebojsa COKORILO, Miroslav SMAJIC, Tatjana TRIVIC, Valdemar STAJER, Lidija MARKOVIC, Zoran MILOSEVIC, Nebojsa MAKSIMOVIC, Sergej M. OSTOJIC

Faculty of Sport and Physical Education, University of Novi Sad, Novi Sad, Serbia


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BACKGROUND: Several preliminary studies reported different adverse health conditions in athletes who train heavily for many years, yet no human trial so far evaluated possible connections with exercise-induced mitochondrial dysfunction (MD).
METHODS: Cross-sectional study. We evaluated the prevalence of participant-reported indicators of chronic fatigue, and serum levels of fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21), a surrogate marker of MD, in 170 professional athletes (141 men and 29 women; age 22.6±3.4 years) who exercised for at least 10 hours per week during the past 5 or more years.
RESULTS: Average weekly exercise volume was 23.0±5.0 hours (95% CI: 22.2-23.9 hours), with chronic fatigue appeared in approximately one in four cases (24.1%; 95% CI: 16.8-33.3%). Relative risk for chronic fatigue was 1.69 (95% CI: 0.65-4.41) in athletes who regularly exercise over 20 hours per week, as compared to less active counterparts. A correlation statistically very important has been found for serum FGF21 and weekly training load (r=-0.26; P=0.002).
CONCLUSIONS: It appears that heavier training loads were accompanied by higher prevalence of chronic fatigue and lower circulating FGF21 levels, perhaps putting forward this novel biomarker as a proxy for exercise-induced MD.


KEY WORDS: High-intensity interval training; Exercise; Fatigue syndrome, chronic

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