Plasma free and sulphated catecholamines after ultra-long exercise and recovery

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Summary

We investigated the early and late effects of two types of ultra-long exercise on sympatho-adrenal and dopaminergic activity. With this aim both free and sulphoconjugated plasma catecholamines (CA), noradrenaline (NA), adrenaline (A), and dopamine (DA) were determined in two groups of athletes immediately after completion of 24-h running or a 10-h triathlon and on recovery during the next 1–3 days. Both races stimulated the sympathetic activity, but differences were observed in the CA pattern: the 24-h run induced a marked elevation of free and sulphoconjugated NA (+175% and +180%, respectively) but failed to alter significantly A and DA levels. The triathlon challenge increased the three conjugated CA (NA sulphate +350%; A sulphate + 110%; DA sulphate +270%) and to a lesser extent free CA (NA +45%; A +30%). On the first post-exercise morning, a sustained intense noradrenergic activity was still present in the 24h-runners, as evidenced by the large increase in free and sulphated NA levels (+ 140% and + 100%, respectively). Such a prolonged activity was also indicated after completion of the triathlon, by the increase of NA sulphate (+ 140%) observed on the 1st recovery day. However, after the triathlon there was a decreased release of A from the adrenal medulla for several days. These data show that both types of ultralong exercise are able to induce for several hours a sustained sympathetic activation during the test and in the recovery period. Furthermore, the study shows that plasma conjugated CA may provide delayed and cumulative indexes of sympathetic activation, complementary to the instantaneous markers such as free CA.