Sport Sciences for Health

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 77–83 | Cite as

Changes of tryptophan metabolism in Japanese runners during an ultra-marathon race

  • Norihiro YamadaEmail author
  • Kiyoshi Shibata
  • Mizuho Fuku
  • Kiyonori Kuriki
  • Chiho Goto
  • Yuko Tokudome
  • Machiko Miyata
  • Kenji Maeda
  • Hideki Hoshino
  • Sadao Suzuki
  • Mitsuhiro Marumoto
  • Hiromitsu Ichikawa
  • Hiroyuki Agawa
  • Nami Ishikawa
  • Kazuyuki Arakawa
  • Akihiro Hosono
  • Masaaki Kobayashi
  • Shinkan Tokudome
Original Article



Under the assumption that tryptophan (TRP) metabolism may be modulated by the intensity, duration, and total exercise/energy expenditure of the ultra-marathon, we evaluated the changes in two major TRP metabolic pathway substances [serotonin (5-HT) and kynurenine (KYN)] during a two-day ultra-marathon race.


Blood was sampled at three different time points: before the race (baseline), after running 45 km on the first day, and after running 135 km on the second day.


Serum TRP concentrations decreased in proportion to the distance covered, and the levels after running 135 km were significantly lower than at baseline and after running 45 km. Serum serotonin (5-HT) concentrations increased significantly after running 45 km but reduced towards baseline levels after running 135 km. Serum kynurenine (KYN) concentrations hardly changed after running 45 km but increased significantly after running 135 km compared with after running 45 km values. Serum FFAs levels increased significantly after running 45 km compared with baseline values, and they elevated even further after running 135 km. Serum albumin concentrations reduced significantly after running 45 km but remained at almost the same level after running 135 km. Serum 5-HT levels tended to be consistently correlated to the completion times on the first and second days.


Serum 5-HT concentrations are known to be associated with central fatigue, and may predict exercise performance. KYN levels appeared to reflect the intensity of physical exercise, and its pathway may play a role in reactive oxygen species scavenging systems during a long-duration exercise.


Exercise intensity Exercise performance Kynurenine Serotonin Tryptophan Ultra-marathon 



We thank the volunteer runners for their generous participation in our study together with the chairman and organizing committee of the Maranic race. We also thank Ms. Fujii, T., Ms. Kubo, Y., Ms. Nakanishi, N., Ms. Ito, Y., Ms. Higuchi, K., and Ms. Watanabe, M. for technical assistance.

Compliance with ethical standards

The protocol was approved by the Institutional Review Board of the Nagoya City University Graduate School of Medical Sciences and by the chairman and organizing committee of the race.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this article.

Human rights

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with study approval by the Institutional Review Board of the Nagoya City University Graduate School of Medical Sciences and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent in writing was obtained from each subject enrolled in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Italia 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Norihiro Yamada
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kiyoshi Shibata
    • 2
    • 3
  • Mizuho Fuku
    • 4
  • Kiyonori Kuriki
    • 2
    • 5
  • Chiho Goto
    • 2
    • 6
  • Yuko Tokudome
    • 2
    • 7
  • Machiko Miyata
    • 2
  • Kenji Maeda
    • 2
  • Hideki Hoshino
    • 2
    • 8
  • Sadao Suzuki
    • 2
  • Mitsuhiro Marumoto
    • 2
    • 9
  • Hiromitsu Ichikawa
    • 2
  • Hiroyuki Agawa
    • 2
    • 10
  • Nami Ishikawa
    • 2
  • Kazuyuki Arakawa
    • 2
    • 9
  • Akihiro Hosono
    • 2
  • Masaaki Kobayashi
    • 11
  • Shinkan Tokudome
    • 2
    • 9
    • 12
  1. 1.Department of Life ScienceTsu City CollegeTsuJapan
  2. 2.Department of Public HealthNagoya City University Graduate School of Medical SciencesNagoyaJapan
  3. 3.Faculty of Home EconomicsAichi Gakusen UniversityOkazakiJapan
  4. 4.Department of Rehabilitation MedicineYokohama Stroke and Brain CenterYokohamaJapan
  5. 5.Department of Nutrition and Health SciencesUniversity of ShizuokaShizuokaJapan
  6. 6.Department of Health and NutritionNagoya Bunri UniversityInazawaJapan
  7. 7.Graduate School of Nutritional SciencesNagoya University of Arts and SciencesNisshinJapan
  8. 8.Department of Early Childhood StudiesAichi Bunkyo Women’s CollegeInazawaJapan
  9. 9.Department of Health and Nutrition PolicyNagoya City University Graduate School of Medical SciencesNagoyaJapan
  10. 10.Department of Internal MedicineShizuoka Kosei HospitalShizuokaJapan
  11. 11.Department of Orthopaedic SurgeryNagoya City University Graduate School of Medical SciencesNagoyaJapan
  12. 12.National Institute of Health and NutritionTokyoJapan

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