Effects of Overtraining Status on the Cortisol Awakening Response—Endocrine and Metabolic Responses on Overtraining Syndrome (EROS-CAR)

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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The cortisol awakening response (CAR) is a distinct component of the circadian cortisol profile and has promise as a biomarker for the monitoring of athlete readiness and training status. Although some studies have suggested the CAR may be affected by the development of overtraining syndrome (OTS), this has yet to be systematically investigated. Purpose: To compare the CAR and diurnal cortisol slope between athletes diagnosed with OTS, healthy athletes, and sedentary controls. Methods: This study was a secondary analysis of data from the Endocrine and Metabolic Responses on Overtraining study. Male participants were recruited to either OTS, healthy athlete, or sedentary control groups. The participants produced saliva samples immediately after waking (S1), 30 minutes after waking (S2), at 16:00 hours, and at 23:00 hours. Salivary cortisol concentration was determined by an electrochemiluminescence assay. Mixed-effects models were used to assess the conditional effect of group (sedentary controls, OTS, and healthy athletes) on the change in cortisol over time. Separate models were fit for the awakening samples (S1 and S2) and for the diurnal slope (linear change across S1, 16:00 h, and 23:00 h). Results: The models demonstrated significant time-by-group interaction for OTS for the 2 cortisol concentrations collected during the awakening period (β = −9.33, P < .001), but not for the diurnal cortisol slope (β = 0.02, P = .80). Conclusions: These results suggest the CAR may be associated with OTS and should be considered within a panel of biomarkers. Further research is necessary to determine whether alterations in the CAR may precede the diagnosis of OTS.

Anderson and Wideman are with the Dept of Kinesiology, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, NC, USA. Cadegiani and Kater are with the Adrenal and Hypertension Unit, Div of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Dept of Medicine, Escola Paulista de Medicina, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil.

Anderson (t_ander2@uncg.edu) is corresponding author.
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