(Vienna, 17 May 2017) Endurance sport has a beneficial impact on physical and mental performance and this can be seen in blood test results. In collaboration with the Health and Prevention Center of the Healthcare Institution for City of Vienna employees, a group of researchers from the biobank at MedUni Vienna has now shown, in a study conducted with older marathon runners, that these laboratory data could be used in the opposite way to predict future changes in fitness. This information can be used to optimise individual training programmes.
The generally beneficial effects of endurance sport upon the health of older people has long been known. In the APSOEM Marathon Study, which has been running since 2009, MedUni Vienna's biobank has already demonstrated that the cognitive ability and mental state of older marathon runners aged >60 are significantly better than those of comparable age groups who do not engage in any endurance sport. The data gathered in this study have now been used for a further study to investigate whether specific blood parameters can be used in the opposite way to predict future changes in fitness.
Since older people have greater potential for improving their fitness than younger people, a follow-up study conducted by a research group headed by doctor and molecular biologist Helmuth Haslacher from MedUni Vienna, in collaboration with Robert Winker's team from the Health and Prevention Center of the Healthcare Institution for City of Vienna employees, took blood samples from 47 marathon runners before an ergometer test, in order to carry out laboratory tests to determine levels of analytes, including inflammatory markers, muscle and liver parameters.
Ergometer tests were repeated after an interval of three years and approximately two thirds of the athletes showed a decline in fitness since the initial test. In fact, it was possible to use the earlier blood results as a basis for predicting who had lost fitness by the time of the follow-up examination, whose fitness level had remained the same and whose had even improved. It was therefore demonstrated that blood tests can be useful for predicting future changes in fitness resulting from endurance training.
The next step for the study group will be to carry over the findings from the marathon runners to larger groups and other types of sport to find a future application for the research results. One possibility would be to develop an app for checking fitness.
The biobank of MedUni Vienna and Vienna General Hospital is a central service facility dedicated to the storage of human tissue, cell material and body fluids for more in-depth diagnosis, academic research projects and clinical tests, as well as working-up samples by way of a medical service. Within the Austrian research infrastructure BBMRI.at, MedUni Vienna biobank works closely with the biobanks and medical archives of the other Austrian universities. The consortium has set itself the joint goal of improving the quality of biomaterial used in biomedical studies and hence increasing the reliability of research results nationwide.
Service: PloS one
A combination of routine blood analytes predicts fitness decrement in elderly endurance athletes. PloS one 12: e0177174: Haslacher H, Ratzinger F, Perkmann T, Batmyagmar D, Nistler S, Scherzer TM, Ponocny-Seliger E, Pilger A, Gerner M, Scheichenberger V, Kundi M, Endler G, Wagner OF, Winker R (2017)
derstandard.at (German Language)
Life Science Austria (LISA)
Kronen Zeitung (German Language)
(Vienna, 23th December 2013) Even professional orchestra musicians suffer from particular stress on the day of the concert and release more cortisol. For the first time it has now been possible to demonstrate that, amongst others, the enzyme myeloperoxidase, which is regarded as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, plays a part in the stress reaction in musicians. This effect is however dampened by an emotional factor: this is because a good mood reduces the stress-induced release of myeloperoxidase.
This is the core result of a current joint study carried out by the Institute for Occupational Medicine at the MedUni Vienna, the MedUni Vienna Biobank (KILM) and the Health and Prevention Centre belonging to the health scheme for the employees of the City of Vienna. Here people are hoping for new approaches in stress research. Meanwhile, at the New Year’s Concert in a few days' time, the good mood and high spirits at the start of 2014 ought to have a stress-relieving effect.
The stress reactions in 47 musicians and the conductor of the Austrian radio symphony orchestra, the ORF, were examined at the dress rehearsal and on the following day, the day of the premier, at Vienna’s Musikverein. Saliva and blood samples were taken for the purpose of producing a cortisol profile and to measure the myeloperoxidase, which plays a major role in inflammatory processes – these were taken before and after each performance, as well as during the concert and rehearsal intervals.
More stress for the director and the first violins
"The result is clear-cut," says Alexander Pilger from the MedUni’s Institute for Occupational Medicine and Robert Winker from the KFA’s Health and Prevention Centre. "In the acute stress situation on the day of the concert the myeloperoxidase increases just as clearly as does the overall release of cortisol." In this however – as well as the inherent stress caused by appearing in front of an audience – other factors also play a role: "The musicians in the first violins and the conductor had on average higher myeloperoxidase levels not only at the dress rehearsal but also in the concert than all the other musicians together."
And the better the mood the musicians were in according to their own self-assessment, the lower the stress-related rise in myeloperoxidase. And vice versa, the worse their mood, the higher the myeloperoxidase-release in comparison with the dress rehearsal. This trend was also observed with cortisol, but here the influence of the level of excitement played the more significant part.
"The general good mood cannot be explained by the 'dream job' of being an orchestral musician," qualifies Pilger. "Earlier studies have shown that even musicians suffer from boredom and monotony, comparable with other, less exposed occupations. Furthermore, the social stress caused by the orchestral hierarchy is very great.
As well as the biochemical and emotional factors, the factor of "general work ability" was also examined anonymously using the so-called Work Ability Index of the German WAI network with questions on the situation at work, health, previous illnesses and self-assessment of work ability. With the result, according to Pilger that: "Work ability played no role whatsoever with regard to the stress-induced effects observed here." Whether and to what extent these new results are also transferable to other stress situations in the world of work would have to be looked at in further investigations.
Service: Brain, Behaviour and Immunity
“Affective and inflammatory responses among orchestra musicians in performance situation.” A. Pilger, H. Haslacher, E. Ponocny-Seliger, T. Perkmann, K. Böhm, A. Budinsky, A. Girard, K. Klien, G. Jordakieva, L. Pezawas, O. Wagner, J. Godnic-Cvar, R. Winker. http://dxi.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi/2013.10.018.
derstandard.at (German Language)
science.orf.at (German Language)