European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 109, Issue 2, pp 323–330 | Cite as

Skeletal muscle telomere length in healthy, experienced, endurance runners

  • Dale E. RaeEmail author
  • Alban Vignaud
  • Gillian S. Butler-Browne
  • Lars-Eric Thornell
  • Colin Sinclair-Smith
  • E. Wayne Derman
  • Mike I. Lambert
  • Malcolm Collins
Original Article


Measuring the DNA telomere length of skeletal muscle in experienced endurance runners may contribute to our understanding of the effects of chronic exposure to endurance exercise on skeletal muscle. This study compared the minimum terminal restriction fragment (TRF) length in the vastus lateralis muscle of 18 experienced endurance runners (mean age: 42 ± 7 years) to those of 19 sedentary individuals (mean age: 39 ± 10 years). The runners had covered almost 50,000 km in training and racing over 15 years. Minimum TRF lengths measured in the muscle of both groups were similar (P = 0.805) and within the normal range. Minimum TRF length in the runners, however, was inversely related to their years spent running (r = −0.63, P = 0.007) and hours spent training (r = −0.52, P = 0.035). Therefore, since exposure to endurance running may influence minimum TRF length, and by implication, the proliferative potential of the satellite cells, chronic endurance running may be seen as a stressor to skeletal muscle.


Endurance exercise Chronic training and racing Skeletal muscle DNA telomere length 



This study was supported in part by funds from the University of Cape Town, the South African Medical Research Council and the Association Français contre les Myopathies, AFLD, Inserm. Université Pierre et Marie Curie, EU NoE Myores and EU Network Myoage. Support was also provided through the following scholarships: University Scholarships Committee Award, Benfara Scholarship, Waddell Scholarship, KW Johnston Bequest Scholarship and the Marion Beatrice Waddell Scholarship.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dale E. Rae
    • 1
    • 7
    Email author
  • Alban Vignaud
    • 2
    • 3
  • Gillian S. Butler-Browne
    • 2
    • 3
  • Lars-Eric Thornell
    • 4
  • Colin Sinclair-Smith
    • 5
  • E. Wayne Derman
    • 1
  • Mike I. Lambert
    • 1
  • Malcolm Collins
    • 6
    • 1
  1. 1.UCT/MRC Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, Department of Human Biology, Faculty of Health SciencesUniversity of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa
  2. 2.Institut de MyologieUPMC Univ Paris 06, UMR-S 974ParisFrance
  3. 3.Institut de MyologieINSERM, UMR-S 974ParisFrance
  4. 4.Department of Integrative Medical Biology, Section for AnatomyUmeå UniversityUmeåSweden
  5. 5.Department of PathologyRed Cross Children’s HospitalCape TownSouth Africa
  6. 6.South African Medical Research CouncilCape TownSouth Africa
  7. 7.UCT/MRC Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports MedicineUniversity of Cape TownNewlandsSouth Africa

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