Exercise-associated iron deficiency is a common disorder in endurance athletes. The authors investigated the effects of long-term endurance exercise on hepcidin concentrations, inflammatory parameters, and iron status in moderately trained female long-distance runners. Eighteen runners were assigned to either an interval- or a continuous-training exercise group. The physical training consisted of two 3-week progressive overload periods, each followed by a week’s recovery, and concluded with a 10- or 21-km competitive run. Samples were taken 6 times during the 8-wk training program, first at baseline (BPre), then after the first and second 3-wk training loads (TPost1, TPost2), after each recovery week (Recovery1 and Recovery2), and poststudy (BPost). Soluble transferrin receptor (sTfR) concentrations were increased in Recovery2 and BPost compared with BPre (p = .02), hemoglobin decreased in TPost1 and TPost2 (p < .001), and red blood cells decreased in TPost2 (p = .01). Hepcidin decreased with time in TPost1 and in BPost compared with BPre (p < .001) and increased in TPost2 compared with TPost1 (p < .001). No differences over time were found for high-sensitivity C-reactive protein. The main findings of the current study indicate that serum hepcidin and sTfR were affected after 8 weeks of endurance running in women. No positive relation was found with inflammation.
Auersperger and Skof are with the Faculty of Sport, and Blagus, the Faculty of Medicine, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia. Knap is with the Dept. of Nephrology, and Jerin and Skitek, the Inst. of Clinical Chemistry and Biochemistry, University Medical Center Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia. Lainscak is with the Div. of Cardiology, University Clinic Golnik, Golnik, Slovenia.