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Journal Article


Stenner E, Gianoli E, Piccinini C, Biasioli B, Bussani A, Delbello G. Eur. J. Appl. Physiol. 2007; 100(1): 71-78.


School of Sports Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, University of Trieste, Via Manzoni 16, 34100, Trieste, Italy.


(Copyright © 2007, Holtzbrinck Springer Nature Publishing Group)






We studied the hypothalamus-pituitary adrenocortical, hypothalamus-pituitary and hypothalamus-pituitary thyroid system responses to a long duration activity (about 20 h) practiced in a demanding environment, characterized by darkness, low temperature and high humidity, namely alpine potholing. We performed four blood drawings in five elite potholers: (1) the morning before the performance, (2) at the bottom of the cave (-700 m), (3) at the end of the ascent, and (4) after 24 h of recovery. Two blood drawings as controls were performed on the same potholers, at the same resting time and with the same experimental procedures as the previous ones. Friedman two-way ANOVA test evidenced significant changes through the different time intervals for detrended (i.e., test values minus control values) growth hormone (GH) (P = 0.003), detrended cortisol (P = 0.004) and FT4 (P = 0.002), while this was not true for TSH and FT3. Successively pairwise comparisons were done both through the different time intervals and between test and control values. The rise of GH values during the performance underlines the great intensity and long duration characteristic of potholing as well as the possibility that the climbing sit harness can cause problems due to vascular hypo-perfusion. Cortisol data, peaking before entering the cave, suggest that there was a marked anticipatory stress reaction followed by less stressing phase during the performance. Finally, the rise of FT4 is likely due to the typical increase of free fatty acids that usually occurs during endurance exercise.

Language: en


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