Journal of Endocrinological Investigation

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 54–62 | Cite as

The effects of bed-rest and countermeasure exercise on the endocrine system in male adults: Evidence for immobilization-induced reduction in sex hormone-binding globulin levels

  • Daniel L. BelavýEmail author
  • M. J. Seibel
  • H. J. Roth
  • G. Armbrecht
  • J. Rittweger
  • D. Felsenberg
Original Article


Background and aim: There is limited data on the effects of inactivity (prolonged bed-rest) on parameters of endocrine and metabolic function; we therefore aimed to examine changes in these systems during and after prolonged (56-day) bed-rest in male adults. Subjects and methods: Twenty healthy male subjects underwent 8 weeks of strict bed-rest and 12 months of follow-up as part of the Berlin Bed Rest Study. Subjects were randomized to an inactive group or a group that performed resistive vibration exercise (RVE) during bed-rest. All outcome parameters were measured before, during and after bed-rest. These included body composition (by whole body dual X-ray absorptiometry), SHBG, testosterone (T), estradiol (E2), PRL, cortisol (C), TSH and free T3 (FT3). Results: Serum SHBG levels decreased in inactive subjects but remained unchanged in the RVE group (p<0.001). Serum T concentrations increased during the first 3 weeks of bed-rest in both groups (p<0.0001), while E2 levels sharply rose with re-mobilization (p<0.0001). Serum PRL decreased in the control group but increased in the RVE group (p=0.021). C levels did not change over time (p≥0.10). TSH increased whilst FT3 decreased during bed-rest (p all ≤0.0013). Conclusions: Prolonged bed-rest has significant effects on parameters of endocrine and metabolic function, some of which are related to, or counteracted by physical activity.


Spaceflight microgravity inactivity Berlin Bed Rest Study 


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Copyright information

© Italian Society of Endocrinology (SIE) 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel L. Belavý
    • 1
    Email author
  • M. J. Seibel
    • 2
    • 3
  • H. J. Roth
    • 4
  • G. Armbrecht
    • 1
  • J. Rittweger
    • 5
    • 6
  • D. Felsenberg
    • 1
  1. 1.Zentrum für Muskel- und KnochenforschungCharité University Medical SchoolBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Bone Research Program, ANZAC Research InstituteThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Endocrinology & MetabolismConcord Hospital Medical CentreConcord WestAustralia
  4. 4.Department for Endocrinology and OncologyLaboratory LimbachHeidelbergGermany
  5. 5.Institute for Biomedical Research into Human Movement and HealthManchester Metropolitan UniversityManchesterUK
  6. 6.Institute of Aerospace MedicineGerman Aerospace CenterCologneGermany

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