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Relationship between inflammatory biomarkers and testosterone levels in male master athletes and non-athletes

Barbosa, Lucas Pinheiro, da Silva Aguiar, Samuel, Santos, Patrick Anderson, Dos Santos Rosa, Thiago, Maciel, Larissa Alves, de Deus, Lysleine Alves, Neves, Rodrigo Vanerson Passos, de Araújo Leite, Patrício Lopes, Gutierrez, Sara Duarte, Sousa, Caio Victor, Korhonen, Marko T, Degens, Hans ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7399-4841 and Simões, Herbert Gustavo (2021) Relationship between inflammatory biomarkers and testosterone levels in male master athletes and non-athletes. Experimental Gerontology, 151. p. 111407. ISSN 0531-5565

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Abstract

Background Aging is often associated with low-grade systemic inflammation and reduced anabolic hormone levels. To investigate whether lifelong exercise training can decrease the age-related low-grade inflammation and anabolic hormone levels, we examined hormonal and inflammatory parameters among highly-trained male masters athletes and age-matched non-athletes. Methods From 70 elite power and endurance master athletes – EMA (51.3 ± 8.0 yr), 32 young controls - YC (23.7 ± 3.9 yr) and 24 untrained age-matched controls - MAC (47.2 ± 8.0 yr) venous blood was drawn to measure inflammatory parameters (interleukin-6 [IL-6], tumor necrosis factor-α [TNF-α] and interleukin-10 [IL-10]) and circulating hormones (luteinizing hormone [LH], total testosterone, estradiol, sex hormone-binding globulin [SHBG] and free androgen index [FAI]). Results EMA showed a better anti-inflammatory status than MAC (higher IL-10 and IL-10/IL-6 ratio and lower IL-6), but a lower anti-inflammatory status than YC (higher TNF-α) (p < 0.05). The MAC group had lower testosterone levels compared to the YC and EMA group (p < 0.05), and lower estradiol levels and testosterone/LH ratio compared to YC (p < 0.05). In the control groups (MAC and YC), testosterone correlated negatively with age and proinflammatory parameters, and positively with anti-inflammatory parameters. Conclusion Elite master athletics elevated levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines above that seen in non-athlete peers and mitigated the age-related reduction in testosterone levels.

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