Plasma Creatine Kinase Activity and Glutathione after Eccentric Exercise

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This study examined whether plasma total glutathione levels could explain the intersubject variability in the creatine kinase (CK) response to eccentric exercise. We hypothesized that the increase in plasma CK activity after eccentric exercise would be lower for individuals with low plasma total glutathione (<2.5 μmol·L−1) compared with individuals with high total glutathione (>3.8 μmol·L−1), but other indicators of muscle damage would be the same between groups.


Resting blood samples were obtained over 2 d from 60 subjects and analyzed for plasma total glutathione. Eight subjects who had total glutathione values below 2.5 μmol·L−1 (LG), and nine who had values above 3.8 μmol·L−1 (HG) performed 50 maximal eccentric actions of the elbow flexors. Maximal voluntary isometric contraction (MVC), relaxed arm angle (RANG), and blood samples for CK, myoglobin (Mb), and total glutathione were obtained pre, post (except blood samples), 24, 48, 72, 96, and 120 h after exercise.


There was a significant group-by-time interaction in analysis of MVC, RANG, total glutathione, CK, and Mb response to exercise. Although LG showed a smaller CK response to eccentric exercise compared with HG, LG also showed a smaller increase in plasma Mb, a faster recovery of MVC and RANG, and an increase in plasma total glutathione.


Subjects with low plasma total glutathione levels had a smaller plasma CK and Mb response and a faster recovery from eccentric exercise compared with subjects having high plasma total glutathione levels. We suggest that a blunted inflammatory response in subjects with low plasma glutathione may be one explanation for these findings.

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