Effects of Training and Overtraining on Intervertebral Disc Proteoglycans

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Study Design.Animal experimental study.Objective.Evaluate the effect of physical activity and overtraining condition on glycosaminoglycan concentration on the intervertebral disc (IVD) using a rat running model.Summary of Background Data.Some guidelines recommend the implementation of a physical exercise program as treatment for low back pain; however, cyclic loading impact on the health of the IVD and whether there is a dose-response relationship is still incompletely understood.Methods.Thirty-two rats ages 8 weeks were divided into four groups with eight animals each. The first 8 weeks were the adaptive phase, the overtraining phase was from the ninth to the eleventh week, which consisted of increasing the number of daily training sessions from 1 to 4 and the recovery phase was represented by the 12th and 13th weeks without training. Control group 1 (CG1) did not undergo any kind of training. Control group 2 (CG2) completed just the adaptive phase. Overtraining group 1 (OT1) completed the overtraining phase. Overtraining group 2 (OT2) completed the recovery phase. Running performance tests were used to assess the “overtraining” status of the animals. IVD glycosaminoglycans were extracted and quantified, and identified by electrophoresis.Results.Glycosaminoglycans showed a distribution between chondroitin sulfate and dermatan sulfate. Glycosaminoglycans quantification showed decreasing concentration at the following order: OT1 > CG2 > OT2 > CG1. Increased expression of dermatan sulfate was verified at the groups submitted to any training.Conclusion.Overtraining condition, as assessed by muscle and cardiovascular endurance did not lessen glycosaminoglycan concentration in the IVD. In fact, physical exercise increased glycosaminoglycan concentration in the IVD in proportion to the training load, even at overtraining condition, returning to normal levels after the recovery phase and glycosaminoglycan production is a reversible acute positive response for mechanical stimulation of the IVD.Level of Evidence: N/A

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