Int J Sports Med 1986; 07(6): 316-321
DOI: 10.1055/s-2008-1025783
© Georg Thieme Verlag Stuttgart · New York

Lipoprotein and Lipid Profiles of Elite Athletes in Olympic Sports

C. Tsopanakis1 , D. Kotsarellis2 , A. D. Tsopanakis
  • 1Experimental Physiology Dept., Athens University Medical School, Athens, Greece
  • 22nd Propedeutic Surgery Dept., Athens University Medical School, Athens, Greece, and Hellenic Sports Research Institute, Exercise Biochemistry Lab., Olympic Sports Center of Athens, Athens, Greece
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Publication History

Publication Date:
14 March 2008 (online)


The aim of this work was to obtain an insight into the influence exerted upon plasma lipid parameters by high quality physical training in different specialities of nine Olympic sports. We compared the concentrations of serum cholesterol (TO, total lipids (TL), triglycerides (TG), HDL, LDL, VLDL, and % distribution of HDL, LDL, and VLDL of elite athletes (n=127, age=22.0±3.2 yrs) participating in regular training for over 3 years (2-4 h/day), separated into 11 groups of athletic specialities, with those obtained from a group of selected sedentary controls (n=26, age=25.3±4.5 yrs). We also compared the lipoprotein ratio factor (RF) values TC/HDL and LDL/HDL. The athletic disciplines examined were football, basketball, volleyball, boxing, wrestling, judo, sailing, skiing (slalom), track (two groups), and throwing-jumping. Football, volleyball, judo, SD and LD running, and the total sum of athletes had significantly higher HDL than the controls. Football, basketball, volleyball and all the disciplines taken together showed significantly lower LDL. Boxing, judo, and LD running had significantly lower VLDL and volleyball, SD, and LD running significantly lower %VLDL. Volleyball had significantly lower TL, boxing and volleyball lower TC, while judo, boxing, SD and LD running had lower TG. Sailing had significantly lower %HDL and higher %LDL and TL than the controls; wrestling, skiing, and throwing-jumping did not differ. In all the athletes taken together, V̇O2 max or relative body weight, with respect to HDL and TC/HDL, were found to be slightly correlated (r=0.30,P < 0.01). Endurance sports, such as team games (football, basketball, volleyball), as well as short- and long-distance running showed favorable HDL and RF values, indicating that these sports seem to be protective against atherogenesis with respect to lipid profiles. In strength sports such as wrestling, boxing, skiing (slalom), and throwing-jumping, lipid values were found to be nearer to normal values. We believe the RF TC/HDL to be a useful parameter to assess adaptations of lipid profiles to physical training and different specialities.