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Modification of plasma glycosaminoglycans in long distance runners
  1. M Contini1,
  2. S Pacini1,
  3. L Ibba-Manneschi1,
  4. V Boddi2,
  5. M Ruggiero2,
  6. G Liguri3,
  7. M Gulisano1,
  8. C Catini1
  1. 1Department of Anatomy, Histology and Forensic Medicine, University of Firenze, Florence, Italy
  2. 2Department of Experimental Pathology and Oncology, University of Firenze
  3. 3Department of Biochemical Sciences, University of Firenze
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Pacini
 Department of Anatomy, Histology and Forensic Medicine, University of Firenze, Viale Morgagni 85-50134, Florence 50134, Italy;


Background: It is well documented that exercise reduces the risk of thromboembolic disease, possibly by increasing the plasma concentration of anticoagulant-antithrombotic compounds.

Objectives: As plasma glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) play a role in the anticoagulant-antithrombotic potential of plasma, to examine the concentration and profile of these compounds in well trained, long distance runners and sedentary subjects.

Methods: Plasma GAGs were measured in 10 male, long distance runners and 10 sedentary counterparts before and after ergometric tests. GAGs were extracted, purified, and identified by electrophoretic and enzymatic methods, and measured as hexosamine.

Results: Plasma GAGs found in sedentary subjects were slow migrating heparan sulphates I and II, keratan sulphate I, and chondroitin 4–6-sulphate. Those found in trained athletes were slow migrating heparan sulphate I, chondroitin 4–6-sulphate (or keratan sulphate I), and fast migrating heparan sulphate. Total plasma concentrations of GAGs were higher in athletes than in sedentary subjects at rest. In sedentary subjects, plasma GAGs did not change after cycle ergometric exercise at 80% of their anaerobic threshold. However, the appearance of a novel band of heparan sulphate migrating faster than fast migrating heparan sulphate was observed in athletes after exercise.

Conclusions: Exercise changes the amount and profile of plasma GAGs; these changes may play a role in protecting subjects who practise aerobic sports against developing cardiovascular disease.

  • glycosaminoglycans
  • heparan sulphate
  • sedentary subjects
  • long distance runners
  • physical exercise
  • GAG, glycosaminoglycan

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