Acute exercise in elite rugby players increases the circulating level of the cardiovascular biomarker GDF-15

Emanuela Galliera, Giovanni Lombardi, Monica G. Marazzi, Dalila Grasso, Elena Vianello, Roberto Pozzoni, Giuseppe Banfi, Massimiliano M. Corsi Romanelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. Intense training can lead to a pathophysiological change in serum concentration of a variety of biomarkers. Traditional biomarkers of cardiac injury are very useful in monitoring CVD patients, but in healthy subjects or athletes they cannot be informative enough about the cardiovascular risk, because in these cases their serum levels do not increase over the pathological limit. Therefore novel cardiovascular biomarkers are required in order to allow a better monitoring of sport performance, prediction of overtraining and diagnosis of sport-related cardiac injuries. Growth differentiation factor-15 (GDF-15) is emerging as a powerful cardiovascular injury risk indicator. In this study we investigate the effect of intense physical training of on the circulating levels of GDF-15 in rugby professional players. Methods. Serum GDF-15, Erythropoietin, IL-6, the cardiovascular parameter ST-2, NT-proBNP and routine hematological parameters were measured in a group of 30 rugby players before and after a session of intense training. Results. While ST-2, IL-6 and hsCRP displayed no significant changes after intense training, NT-proBNP and GDF-15 showed a significant increase, even without reaching the pathological level. Discussion. The measure of GDF-15 in professional rugby players could be a useful tool to monitoring their cardiovascular status during training and competition session in order to prevent the onset of collateral cardiovascular adverse event due to the intense training and, in the case of cardiac injury, it could possibly allow a very early diagnosis at the beginning of the pathogenic process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)492-499
Number of pages8
JournalScandinavian Journal of Clinical and Laboratory Investigation
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2014


  • Cardiovascular risk
  • GDF-15
  • Intense training
  • Rugby

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Medicine(all)


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