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Effect of Exercising in the Heat on Intestinal Fatty Acid-Binding Protein, Endotoxins, and Lipopolysaccharide-Binding Protein Markers in Trained Athletic Populations: A Systematic Literature Review

Alice Wallett, Julien D. Périard, Philo Saunders, and Andrew McKune

Along with digestion and absorption of nutrients, the gastrointestinal epithelium acts as a primary intestinal defense layer, preventing luminal pathogens from entering the circulation. During exercise in the heat, epithelial integrity can become compromised, allowing bacteria and bacterial endotoxins to translocate into circulation, triggering a systemic inflammatory response and exacerbating gastrointestinal damage. While this relationship seems clear in the general population in endurance/ultraendurance exercise, the aim of this systematic review was to evaluate the effect of exercise in the heat on blood markers of gastrointestinal epithelial disturbance in well-trained individuals. Following the 2009 Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviewed and Meta-Analyses guidelines, five electronic databases were searched for appropriate research, and 1,885 studies were identified. Five studies met the inclusion criteria and were subject to full methodological appraisal by two reviewers. Critical appraisal of the studies was conducted using the McMasters Critical Review Form. The studies investigated changes in markers of gastrointestinal damage (intestinal fatty acid–binding protein, endotoxin, and/or lipopolysaccharide-binding protein) following acute exercise in warm to hot conditions (≥ 30 °C) and included trained or well-trained participants with direct comparisons to a control temperate condition (≤ 22 °C). The studies found that prolonged submaximal and strenuous exercise in hot environmental conditions can acutely increase epithelial disturbance compared with exercise in cooler conditions, with disturbances not being clinically relevant. However, trained and well-trained populations appear to tolerate exercise-induced gastrointestinal disturbance in the heat. Whether this is an acquired tolerance related to regular training remains to be investigated.

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Repeated-Sprint Exercise in the Heat Increases Indirect Markers of Gastrointestinal Damage in Well-Trained Team-Sport Athletes

Alice Wallett, Andrew McKune, David Pyne, David Bishop, Olivier Girard, Philo Saunders, and Julien Périard

Introduction: Athletes engaged in repeated-sprint training in the heat can be at an increased risk of gastrointestinal ischemia and damage in response to a redistribution of blood to working skeletal muscles and the skin. This study investigated the effects of repeated sprinting in hot and cool conditions on markers of gastrointestinal damage. Methods: Twenty-five, well-trained, nonheat acclimated male team-sport athletes completed a five-session, repeated-sprint training regimen over 7 days in either HOT (40 °C and 40% relative humidity [RH]) or COOL (20 °C and 40% RH) conditions. Participants underwent a 20-min warm-up and four sets of 5 × 6-s maximal cycling sprints, with 24-s rest and 5-min recovery between sets. Venous blood was collected pre-, post-, and 1 hr postexercise and analyzed for intestinal fatty acid binding protein, lipopolysaccharide binding protein, soluble CD14, and heat-shock protein. Results: Intestinal fatty acid binding protein concentrations were significantly increased (p < .004) postexercise (593 and 454 pg/ml) and 1 hr postexercise (466 and 410 pg/ml) on both Days 1 and 5 in HOT. Soluble CD14 increased by 398 and 308 ng/ml postexercise (p = .041), and lipopolysaccharide binding protein increased by 1,694 ng/ml postexercise on Day 1 in HOT (p < .05) and by 1,520 ng/ml on Day 5 in COOL (p = .026). Core and skin temperature, rating of perceived exertion, and thermal sensation were higher (p < .05) in HOT on Days 1 and 5 during sprinting. Conclusions: Repeated sprinting in the heat induced greater thermal strain and mild changes in gastrointestinal damage, likely attributable to the combination of environmental conditions and maximal-intensity exercise.

Open access

Dietary Intake and Gastrointestinal Integrity in Runners Undertaking High-Intensity Exercise in the Heat

Naroa Etxebarria, Nicole A. Beard, Maree Gleeson, Alice Wallett, Warren A. McDonald, Kate L. Pumpa, and David B. Pyne

Gastrointestinal disturbances are one of the most common issues for endurance athletes during training and competition in the heat. The relationship between typical dietary intake or nutritional interventions and perturbations in or maintenance of gut integrity is unclear. Twelve well-trained male endurance athletes (peak oxygen consumption = 61.4 ± 7.0 ml·kg−1·min−1) completed two trials in a randomized order in 35 °C (heat) and 21 °C (thermoneutral) conditions and kept a detailed nutritional diary for eight consecutive days between the two trials. The treadmill running trials consisted of 15 min at 60% peak oxygen consumption, 15 min at 75% peak oxygen consumption, followed by 8 × 1-min high-intensity efforts. Venous blood samples were taken at the baseline, at the end of each of the three exercise stages, and 1 hr postexercise to measure gut integrity and the permeability biomarker concentration for intestinal fatty-acid-binding protein, lipopolysaccharide, and lipopolysaccharide-binding protein. The runners self-reported gut symptoms 1 hr postexercise and 3 days postexercise. The heat condition induced large (45–370%) increases in intestinal fatty-acid-binding protein, lipopolysaccharide-binding protein, and lipopolysaccharide concentrations compared with the baseline, but induced mild gastrointestinal symptoms. Carbohydrate and polyunsaturated fat intake 24 hr preexercise were associated with less lipopolysaccharide translocation. Protein, carbohydrate, total fat, and polyunsaturated fat intake (8 days) were positively associated with the percentage increase of intestinal fatty-acid-binding protein in both conditions (range of correlations, 95% confidence interval = .62–.93 [.02, .98]). Typical nutrition intake partly explained increases in biomarkers and the attenuation of symptoms induced by moderate- and high-intensity exercise under both heat and thermoneutral conditions.

Free access

The Impact of a Short-Term Ketogenic Low-Carbohydrate High-Fat Diet on Biomarkers of Intestinal Epithelial Integrity and Gastrointestinal Symptoms

Alannah K.A. McKay, Alice M. Wallett, Andrew J. McKune, Julien D. Périard, Philo Saunders, Jamie Whitfield, Nicolin Tee, Ida A. Heikura, Megan L.R. Ross, Avish P. Sharma, Ricardo J.S. Costa, and Louise M. Burke

Endurance exercise can disturb intestinal epithelial integrity, leading to increased systemic indicators of cell injury, hyperpermeability, and pathogenic translocation. However, the interaction between exercise, diet, and gastrointestinal disturbance still warrants exploration. This study examined whether a 6-day dietary intervention influenced perturbations to intestinal epithelial disruption in response to a 25-km race walk. Twenty-eight male race walkers adhered to a high carbohydrate (CHO)/energy diet (65% CHO, energy availability = 40 kcal·kg FFM−1·day−1) for 6 days prior to a Baseline 25-km race walk. Athletes were then split into three subgroups: high CHO/energy diet (n = 10); low-CHO, high-fat diet (LCHF: n = 8; <50 g/day CHO, energy availability = 40 kcal·kg FFM−1·day−1); and low energy availability (n = 10; 65% CHO, energy availability = 15 kcal·kg FFM−1·day−1) for a further 6-day dietary intervention period prior to a second 25-km race walk (Adaptation). During both trials, venous blood was collected pre-, post-, and 1 hr postexercise and analyzed for markers of intestinal epithelial disruption. Intestinal fatty acid-binding protein concentration was significantly higher (twofold increase) in response to exercise during Adaptation compared to Baseline in the LCHF group (p = .001). Similar findings were observed for soluble CD14 (p < .001) and lipopolysaccharide-binding protein (p = .003), where postexercise concentrations were higher (53% and 36%, respectively) during Adaptation than Baseline in LCHF. No differences in high CHO/energy diet or low energy availability were apparent for any blood markers assessed (p > .05). A short-term LCHF diet increased intestinal epithelial cell injury in response to a 25-km race walk. No effect of low energy availability on gastrointestinal injury or symptoms was observed.