In recent years there has been a remarkable enhancement in the knowledge and understanding of endocrine responses to exercise and exercise training in children and adolescents who participate in sports. This includes, for example, exercise-associated changes in growth factors that regulate muscle adaptations to exercise training, the use of hormonal changes to assess training intensity, as well as deleterious effects of competitive sports, in particularly if associated with inadequate nutrition, on growth and the reproductive system. However, major scientific gaps still exist in our understanding of the application and translation of this knowledge to the everyday use of young athletes and their coaches. These gaps include the translation of laboratory research to “real-life” training setting to optimize training efficiency, mainly due to the lack of “real-life” exercise studies; and the use of genetic endocrinology for sports selection, the prediction of excellence in sports and to improve training.
The Pediatric Exercise Science Year That Was section aims to highlight the most important (to the author’s opinion) manuscripts that were published in 2016 in the field of endocrinology and pediatric exercise science. This year’s selection includes studies showing that 1) Induction of T4 to T3 conversion by type 2 deiodinase following aerobic exercise in skeletal muscles was associated with concomitant increase in peroxisome proliferatoractivated receptor-γ coactivator-1α, and mitochondrial oxidative capacity and therefore plays an important mechanistic role in the muscle adaptation to exercise training. 2) Hypothyroidism in fetal and early postnatal life was associated with impaired spatial learning and memory and with reduced hippocampal brain-derived neurotrophic factor in male and female rat pups. Forced (treadmill) and voluntary (wheel) exercise alleviated all these biochemical and neuro-cognitive deficits. 3) The relationship between different exercise intensities and carbohydrate requirements to maintain euglycemia at basal insulin levels among adolescent and young adults with Type 1 diabetes are nonlinear but rather inverted- U with no exogenous glucose required to maintain stable glucose level at high-intensity exercise (80%). The implication of these studies to the pediatric population, their importance and the new research avenues that were opened by these studies is emphasized.
The Pediatric Exercise Science “Year That Was” section aims to highlight the most important (to the author’s opinion) manuscripts that were published in 2017 in the field of endocrinology and pediatric exercise science. This year’s selection includes studies showing that 1) in pubertal swimmers, there is a decrease in insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-I) and IGF-binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3) during intense training (a catabolic-type hormonal response) with an anabolic “rebound” characterized by a significant increase of these growth factors during training tapering down. Moreover, it was shown that changes of IGF-I and IGFBP-3 paralleled changes in peak and average force but not with endurance properties, showing decreases during intense training and increases during tapering; 2) a meta-analysis showing that growth hormone administration elicits significant changes in body composition and possible limited effect on anaerobic performance but does not increase either muscle strength or aerobic exercise capacity in healthy, young subjects; and 3) short-term exercise intervention can prevent the development of polycystic ovary syndrome in a dose-dependent manner in letrozole-induced polycystic ovary syndrome rat model with high-intensity exercise being most effective. The implication of these studies to the pediatric population, their importance, and the new research avenues that were opened by these studies is emphasized.
Competitive female athletes restrict energy intake and increase exercise energy expenditure frequently resulting in ovarian suppression. The purpose of this study was to determine the impact of ovarian suppression and energy deficit on swimming performance (400-m swim velocity).
Menstrual status was determined by circulating estradiol (E2) and progesterone (P4) in ten junior elite female swimmers (15-17 yr). The athletes were categorized as cyclic (CYC) or ovarian-suppressed (OVS). They were evaluated every 2 weeks for metabolic hormones, bioenergetic parameters, and sport performance during the 12-week season.
CYC and OVS athletes were similar (p > .05) in age (CYC = 16.2 ± 1.8 yr, OVS = 17 ± 1.7 yr), body mass index (CYC = 21 ± 0.4 kg·m, OVS = 25 ± 0.8 kg·m), and gynecological age (CYC = 2.6 ± 1.1 yr, OVS = 2.8 ± 1.5 yr). OVS had suppressed P4 (p < .001) and E2 (p = .002) across the season. Total triiodothyronine (TT3) and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) were lower in OVS (TT3: CYC = 1.6 ± 0.2 nmol·L, OVS = 1.4 ± 0.1 nmol·L, p < .001; IGF-1: CYC = 243 ± 1 μg·mL, OVS = 214 μg·mL p < .001) than CYC at week 12. Energy intake (p < .001) and energy availability (p < .001) were significantly lower in OVS versus CYC. OVS exhibited a 9.8% decline in Δ400-m swim velocity compared with an 8.2% improvement in CYC at week 12.
Ovarian steroids (P4 and E2), metabolic hormones (TT3 and IGF-1), and energy status markers (EA and EI) were highly correlated with sport performance. This study illustrates that when exercise training occurs in the presence of ovarian suppression with evidence for energy conservation (i.e., reduced TT3), it is associated with poor sport performance. These data from junior elite female athletes support the need for dietary periodization to help optimize energy intake for appropriate training adaptation and maximal sport performance
Alon Eliakim and Dan Nemet
The manuscript “Plasma Somatomedin-C in 8- to 10-Year-Old Swimmers” by Denison and Ben-Ezra published in the first issue of Pediatric Exercise Science in 1989 was among the first to address the relationship between growth, the growth hormone (GH)/insulin like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) axis, and exercise. Since their pioneering article, this topic has become of great interest to pediatricians and pediatric exercise researchers, and today our understanding of the effects of exercise training on the growth axis during childhood and puberty, on differences between systemic and local (i.e., muscle) responses to exercise, and our ability to use these responses to assist the adolescent competitive athlete in the evaluation of the training load have markedly improved. The aim of the present review is to summarize our current knowledge on this topic.
Bareket Falk and Alon Eliakim
Bareket Falk and Alon Eliakim
Alon Eliakim and Dan Nemet
The diagnosis of Growth Hormone (GH) deficiency in children with short stature is complex, and in certain cases, might be very difficult. Most of the provocative tests used to evaluate GH deficiency use pharmacological agents. The artificial nature of the pharmacological tests and the possibility that these tests might not always reflect GH secretion under normal physiological conditions provides the impetus for a more physiologic test. Exercise is one of the important GH releasing physiological stimuli. This review will summarize the current knowledge on the methods for performing laboratory exercise provocation test for GH secretion in children. In addition to recommendations of more standardized exercise protocols and environmental considerations, we will also focus on GH responses to exercise in unique populations such as obese children.