European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 118, Issue 6, pp 1095–1105 | Cite as

The effect of aerobic walking and lower body resistance exercise on serum COMP and hyaluronan, in both males and females

  • Harry M. RobertsEmail author
  • Jonathan P. Moore
  • Jeanette M. Thom
Original Article



To compare the serum cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP) and hyaluronan (HA) response to walking (high-repetition loading) and resistance training exercise (low-repetition loading) in males and females.


15 males (age: 28 ± 6 years; BMI: 24 ± 2; mean ± SD) and 15 females (age: 26 ± 4 years; BMI: 23 ± 2) completed both a 40-min walk at 80% of maximum heart rate and a 40-min lower body resistance training protocol, separated by a minimum of 48 h. Serum COMP and HA were determined at rest, immediately post, and 30-min post exercise. Resting femoral cartilage thickness was also measured using ultrasonography.


COMP increased following walking (28.9%; P < 0.001) and resistance training exercise (26.0%; P < 0.001), remaining above baseline post-exercise following walking (mean difference: +28.3 ng/ml; 95% CI 3.8–52.8 ng/ml; P = 0.02). Although the exercise response did not differ for gender, COMP concentrations were higher in males than in females at all time points (all, P < 0.001). In contrast, HA concentrations did not change following either modality of exercise. However, females demonstrated higher HA pre-exercise (37.7 ± 17.8 vs 26.2 ± 12.8 ng/ml; P = 0.006) and immediately post exercise (38.0 ± 19.0 vs 28.2 ± 15.5 ng/ml; P = 0.033) compared to men. Finally, following adjustment for body size, femoral cartilage thickness was greater in men compared to women (notch: 2.66 vs 1.74 mm, P < 0.001).


The effect of a single bout of lower body exercise on serum COMP and HA is independent of exercise modality in healthy men and women. Furthermore, having thicker femoral cartilage and higher baseline COMP in males does not appear to influence how the cartilage responds to exercise.


Joint loading Ultrasound Femoral cartilage thickness Cartilage metabolism 



Body mass index


Cartilage oligomeric matrix protein


Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay




Maximum heart rate




Repetition maximum




Maximum oxygen uptake



The authors thank all the participants who volunteered for this study.

Author contribution statement

HR, JT and JM conceived and designed study; HR collected raw data, and completed the preparation and analyses of blood samples; HR completed all data analyses; HR, JT and JM discussed the results and contributed to the final manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors disclose that no funding was received for this work and have no conflicts of interest to declare.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Harry M. Roberts
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jonathan P. Moore
    • 1
  • Jeanette M. Thom
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Sport, Health and Exercise SciencesBangor UniversityBangorUK
  2. 2.School of Biosciences and MedicineUniversity of SurreyGuildfordUK
  3. 3.School of Medical SciencesUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

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