Changes in plasma volume and red cell formation after a marathon competition

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The purpose of this study was to investigate middle-term influences of a marathon race on plasma volume (PV) and red cell production. We performed the following measurements in the blood of 15 male athletes: haemoglobin ([Hb]), haematocrit (Hct), plasma protein concentration ([Prot]), plasma osmolality, sodium concentration ([Na+]), potassium concentration ([K+]), aldosterone concentration ([Aldo]), haptoglobin concentration ([Hpto]), and the reticulocyte count, as well as the calculation of relative changes in PV, 3 days before and on 3-consecutive days after a marathon race. By the 2nd day of recovery PV had increased by 16%. Plasma osmolality and [K+] remained constant, whereas [Na+] had decreased slightly 2 days after the competition and [Aldo] tended to be elevated 1 day after the competition. [Hpto] was low before and 1 day after the competition and increased on the following days. Reticulocyte count was unaffected 1 day after the race, but increased by 106% on the 2nd day and was still elevated after 3 days. The causes for higher post-marathon plasma volumes and reticulocyte counts could be in the complex variations in hormonal regulation, which have not yet been sufficiently investigated.

A preliminary report was presented at the 64th congress of the German Physiological Society in 1987