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Responses of bone turnover markers to repeated endurance running in humans under conditions of energy balance or energy restriction

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Distance running in humans has been associated with both positive and negative effects on the balance of bone remodelling. There is evidence to suggest that the negative effects may be linked to a failure to balance energy expenditure with an adequate energy intake. Energy restriction is known to reduce the synthesis and serum concentration of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), which plays an important role in bone formation. The purpose of the present study was to compare the effects of repeated periods of prolonged treadmill running, under conditions of either energy balance or energy restriction, on markers of bone turnover and serum IGF-1 concentration in trained distance runners. Eight male distance runners [mean age 25.1 (SD 5.9) years, maximal oxygen uptake 61.8 (SD 4.9) ml · kg−1 · min−1] undertook an exercise and diet regime on two separate occasions, 2 weeks apart. On each occasion they performed an intensive, 60 min treadmill run on 3 consecutive days. On one occasion their energy intake was restricted to approximately 50% of their estimated energy requirement (RES), whereas on the other occasion they remained in energy balance (BAL). The N-terminal pro-peptide of type 1 collagen (P1NP), osteocalcin and IGF-1 were measured in serum collected between 0800 and 0900 hours, when fasted and rested, on the day before and the day after each regime. The cross-linked N-telopeptides of type 1 collagen and deoxypyridinoline were measured from 24 h urine collections made on the day before and the final day of each regime and adjusted for creatinine excretion. The results showed that the serum concentration of both P1NP and IGF-1 declined by 15% (P=0.008) and 17% (P=0.007) respectively in response to RES, but did not change in response to BAL (P > 0.05). A strong relationship was observed between the magnitude of the reduction in the serum concentration of P1NP and IGF-1 after RES (r=0.97; P < 0.001). There were no changes in the other bone markers in response to either regime. The results suggested that in trained distance runners, repeated periods of prolonged running do not affect the balance of bone turnover unless energy balance is simultaneously altered. These findings support the link between a negative energy balance, a reduced synthesis or serum level of IGF-1 and reduced collagen synthesis. They may also help to explain the bone remodelling imbalance that has been observed in some male and female distance runners.

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Accepted: 29 June 2000

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Zanker, C., Swaine, I. Responses of bone turnover markers to repeated endurance running in humans under conditions of energy balance or energy restriction. Eur J Appl Physiol 83, 434–440 (2000).

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