Objective: To investigate the effects of short-term prednisolone ingestion combined with intense training on exercise performance, hormonal (adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH), prolactin, luteinising hormone (LH), growth hormone (GH), thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), testosterone, insulin) and metabolic parameters (blood glucose, lactate, bicarbonate, pH).
Methods: Eight male recreational athletes completed four cycling trials at 70–75% peak O2 consumption until exhaustion just before (1) and after (2) either oral placebo or prednisolone (60 mg/day for 1 week) treatment coupled with standardised physical training (2 hours/day), according to a double-blind and randomised protocol. Blood samples were collected at rest, during exercise and passive recovery for the hormonal and metabolic determinations.
Results: Time of cycling was not significantly changed after placebo but significantly increased (p<0.05) after prednisolone administration (50.4 (6.2) min for placebo 1, 64.0 (9.1) min for placebo 2, 56.1 (9.1) min for prednisolone 1 and 107.0 (20.7) min for prednisolone 2). There was no significant difference in any measured parameters after the week of training with placebo but a decrease in ACTH, DHEA, PRL, GH, TSH and testosterone was seen with prednisolone treatment during the experiment (p<0.05). No significant change in basal, exercise or recovery LH, insulin, lactate, pH or bicarbonate was found between the two treatment, but blood glucose was significantly higher under prednisolone (p<0.05) at all time points.
Conclusion: Short-term glucocorticoid administration induced a marked improvement in endurance performance. Further studies are needed to determine whether these results obtained in recreational male athletes maintaining a rigorous training schedule are gender-dependent and applicable to elite athletes.
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Competing interests: None declared.
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