Int J Sports Med 2001; 22(2): 120-126
DOI: 10.1055/s-2001-11364
Physiology and Biochemistry
Georg Thieme Verlag Stuttgart · New York

Attenuation of Increase in Circulating Cortisol and Enhancement of the Acute Phase Protein Response in Vitamin C-Supplemented Ultramarathoners

E. M. Peters1 , R. Anderson2 , A. J. Theron2
  • 1 School of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Natal, Durban, South Africa
  • 2 Medical Research Council Unit for Inflammation and Immunity, Department of Immunology, Institute for Pathology, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
31 December 2001 (online)

Supplementary vitamin C (2 · 500 mg tablets daily) or a matched placebo was administered to 10 and 6 ultramarathon athletes respectively for 7 days prior to participation in a 90 kilometer running event, as well as on the day of the race and for 2 days after its completion. Circulating concentrations of vitamins A, C and E, as well as those of leukocytes and platelets, myeloperoxidase, C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF), cortisol, and creatine kinase were measured 16 hours before the race and at 30 min, 24 hours, and 48 hours after completion. Pre-race vitamin C concentrations in the supplemented group were unchanged after the race (118.2 ± 15.9 and 115.9 ± 11.9 µmol/l) while an increase was observed in the placebo group immediately post-race (85.8 ± 11.9 to 107.4 ± 18.8 µmol/l), with a return to pre-race values after 24 hours. Immediately on completion of the race transient elevations occurred in the concentrations of circulating neutrophils, monocytes and platelets, IL-6, cortisol, CRP, and creatine kinase in both groups. In the supplemented group the concentrations of CRP were significantly higher (p < 0.01) at each of the post-race time-points while those of cortisol were 30 % lower immediately post-race. These observations provide evidence that supplementation with vitamin C may blunt the adaptive mobilization of this vitamin from the adrenals during exercise-induced oxidative stress and may be associated with an enhancement of the acute phase protein response and attenuation of the exercise-induced increase in serum cortisol.


E. M. Peters, MSc (Med)

Department of PhysiologySchool of Medical Sciences

Private Bag 7

Congella, 4013

South Africa

Phone: Phone:+ 27 (31) 2604237

Fax: Fax:+ 27 (31) 2604455