The Effect of Gender and Menstrual Phase on Serum Creatine Kinase Activity and Muscle Soreness Following Downhill Running
BACKGROUND/AIMS The clinical complications associated with an unopposed estrogen environment and luteal phase defects observed in exercising women prompted the examination of the relationship of exercise and endogenous ovarian steroids with serum creatine kinase (CK) activity. METHODS Subjects (n = 34) were classified into three groups according to their exercise and menstrual status, sedentary and exercising ovulatory groups (SedOvul, ExOvul), and an exercising amenorrheic group (ExAmen). Daily urine samples were collected to assess urinary ovarian steroid exposure and menstrual status. Serum CK activity was assayed in each menstrual cycle of all subjects. RESULTS Exercise increased serum CK activity in all exercising subjects (p < 0.01), but the increase was greater in amenorrheic women compared to ovulatory women (SedOvul: 33.0 +/- 3.4; ExOvul: 43.7 +/- 4.1; ExAmen: 54.4 +/- 3.6, p < 0.05). When the ovulatory women were further divided into those with normal steroid production (ExOvul subgroup) and those with a suppressed progesterone luteal phase environment (ExLPD), both the ExOvul (51.9 +/- 5.4 IU/l) subgroup and ExAmen group had higher serum CK activity (p < 0.05) than the ExLPD (36.6 +/- 5.2 IU/l) subjects or the sedentary controls. CONCLUSIONS These data demonstrate the complex association between ovarian hormone status and the normal serum CK response to regular mechanical stress imposed by chronic exercise training.