A comparison of dicarbonyl stress and advanced glycation endproducts in lifelong endurance athletes vs. sedentary controls

Martijn F. H. Maessen, Casper G. Schalkwijk, Rebecca J. H. M. Verheggen, Vincent L. Aengevaeren, Maria T. E. Hopman, Thijs M. H. Eijsvogels*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objectives: Dicarbonyl stress and high concentrations of advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) relate to an elevated risk for cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Exercise training lowers the risk for future CVD. We tested the hypothesis that lifelong endurance athletes have lower dicarbonyl stress and AGEs compared to sedentary controls and that these differences relate to a better cardiovascular health profile.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Methods: We included 18 lifelong endurance athletes (ATH, 61 7 years) and 18 sedentary controls (SED, 58 +/- 7 years) and measured circulating glyoxal (GO), methylglyoxal (MGO) and 3-deoxyglucosone (3DG) as markers of dicarbonyl stress. Furthermore, we measured serum levels of protein bound AGEs N-epsilon-(carboxymethyl)lysine (CML), N-epsilon-(carboxyethyplysine (CEL), methylglyoxal-derived hydroimidazolone-1 (MG-H1), and pentosidine. Additionally, we measured cardiorespiratory fitness (VO(2)peak) and cardiovascular health markers.

Results: ATH had lower concentrations of MGO (196 [180-246] vs. 242 [207-292] nmol/mmol lysine, p = 0.043) and 3DG (927 [868-972] vs. 1061 [982-1114] nmol/mmol lysine, p <0.01), but no GO compared to SED. ATH demonstrated higher concentrations CML and CEL compared to SED. Pentosidine did not differ across groups and MG-H1 was significantly lower in ATH compared to SED. Concentrations of MGO en 3DG were inversely correlated with cardiovascular health markers, whereas CML and CEL were positively correlated with VO(2)peak and cardiovascular health markers.

Conclusion: Lifelong exercise training relates to lower dicarbonyl stress (MGO and 3DG) and the AGE MG-H1. The underlying mechanism and (clinical) relevance of higher CML and CEL concentrations among lifelong athletes warrants future research, since it conflicts with the idea that higher AGE concentrations relate to poor cardiovascular health outcomes. (C) 2017 Sports Medicine Australia. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)921-926
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Science and Medicine in Sport
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017


  • Oxidative stress
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Physical activity
  • Exercise physiology

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