Influence of a 7-day Transalpine Trail Run on cardiac biomarkers and myocardial function

Katrin Esefeld, Marisa Geisberger, Sophia Marie Theres Dinges, Johanna Hambrecht, Felix Stegmüller, Michael Rasper, Jonathan Nadjiri, Franz Roeschenthaler, Stefan Holdenrieder, Jürgen Scharhag, Martin Halle

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Intense physical exercise is known to increase cardiac biomarkers; however, it is unclear, whether this phenomenon is physiological, or if it indicates myocardial tissue injury. The aim of our study was to investigate the effects of seven consecutive days of excessive endurance exercise on continuous assessment of cardiac biomarkers, function, and tissue injury. During a 7-day trail-running competition (Transalpine Run, distance 267.4 km, altitude ascent/descent 15556/14450 m), daily blood samples were obtained for cardiac biomarkers (hs-TnT, NT-proBNP, and suppression of tumorigenicity-2 protein (ST2)) at baseline, after each stage and 24–48 h post-race. In addition, echocardiography was performed every second day, cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (CMR) before (n = 7) and after (n = 16) the race. Twelve (eight males) out of 17 healthy athletes finished all seven stages (average total finish time: 43 ± 8 h). Only NT-proBNP increased significantly (3.6-fold, p = 0.009) during the first stage and continued to increase during the race. Hs-TnT revealed an incremental trend during the first day (2.7-fold increase, p = 0.098) and remained within the pathological range throughout the race. ST2 levels did not change during the race. All cardiac biomarkers completely returned to physiological levels post-race. NT-proBNP kinetics correlated significantly with mild transient reductions in right ventricular function (assessed by TAPSE, tricuspid annular plane systolic function; r = −0.716; p = 0.014). No significant echocardiographic changes in LV dimensions, LV function, or relevant alterations in CMR were observed post-race. In summary, this study shows that prolonged, repetitive, high-volume exercise induced a transient, significant increase in NT-proBNP associated with right ventricular dysfunction without corresponding left ventricular functional or structural impairment.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere14590
JournalScandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2024


  • CMR
  • NT-proBNP
  • cardiomyopathy
  • exercise
  • running
  • troponin


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