Date of Completion

Spring 5-10-2009

Thesis Advisor(s)

William J. Kraemer


Biology | Cell Biology | Cellular and Molecular Physiology | Exercise Physiology | Molecular Biology | Musculoskeletal, Neural, and Ocular Physiology | Neuroscience and Neurobiology | Other Neuroscience and Neurobiology | Physiology


Creatine Kinase (CK) is used as a measure of exercise-induced muscle membrane damage. During acute eccentric (muscle lengthening) exercise, muscle sarcolemma, sarcoplasmic reticulum, and Z-lines are damaged, thus causing muscle proteins and enzymes to leak into the interstitial fluid.

Strenuous eccentric exercise produces an elevation of oxygen free radicals, which further increases muscle damage. Muscle soreness and fatigue can be attributed to this membrane damage. Estradiol, however, may preserve membrane stability post-exercise (Brancaccio, Maffulli, & Limongelli, 2007; Carter, Dobridge, & Hackney, 2001; Tiidus, 2001). Because estradiol has a similar structure to Vitamin E, which is known to have antioxidant properties, and both are known to affect membrane structure, researchers have proposed that estrogen acts as an antioxidant to provide a protective effect on the post-exercise muscle of women (Sandoval & Matt, 2002). As a result, it has been postulated that muscles in women incur less damage in response to an acute strenuous exercise as compared to men. PURPOSE: To determine if circulating estrogen concentrations are related to muscle damage, as measured by creatine kinase activity and to determine gender differences in creatine kinase as a marker of muscle damage in response to an acute heavy resistance exercise protocol. METHODS: 7 healthy, resistance-trained, eumenhorrheic women (23±3 y, 169±9.1 cm, 66.4±10.5 kg) and 8 healthy, resistance-trained men (25±5 y, 178±6.7 cm, 82.3±9.33 kg) volunteered to participate in the study. Subjects performed an Acute Resistance Exercise Test (ARET) consisting of 6 sets of 5 repetitions Smith machine squats at 90% of their previously determined 1-RM. Blood samples were taken pre-, mid-, post-, 1 hour post-, 6 hours post-, and 24 hours post-exercise. Samples were stored at -80ºC until analyzed. Serum creatine kinase was measured using an assay kit from Genzyme (Framingham, MA). Serum estradiol was measured by an ELISA from GenWay (San Diego, CA). Estradiol b-receptor presence on granulocytes was measured via flow cytometry using primary antibodies from Abcam (Cambridge, MA) and PeCy7 antibodies (secondary) from Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz, CA). RESULTS: No significant correlations between estrogen and CK response were found after an acute resistant exercise protocol.

Moreover, no significant change in estradiol receptors were expressed on granulocytes after exercise. Creatine Kinase response, however, differed significantly between genders. Men had higher resting CK concentrations throughout all time points. Creatine Kinase response increased significantly after exercise in both men and women (p=0.008, F=9.798). Men had a significantly higher CK response at 24 hours post exercise than women. A significant condition/sex/time interaction was exhibited in CK response (p=0.02, F=4.547). Perceived general soreness presented a significant condition, sex interaction (p=0.01, F=9.532). DISCUSSION: Although no estradiol and CK response correlations were found in response

to exercise, a significant difference in creatine kinase activity was present between men and women. This discrepancy of our results and findings in the literature may be due to the high variability between

subjects in creatine kinase activity as well as estrogen concentrations.

The lack of significance in change of estradiol receptor expression on granulocytes in response to exercise may be due to intracellular estradiol receptor staining and non-specific gating for granulocytes rather than additional staining for neutrophil markers. Because neutrophils are the initial cells present in the inflammatory response after strenuous exercise, staining for estrogen receptors on this cell type may allow for a better understanding of the effect of estrogen and its hypothesized protective effect against muscle damage. Furthermore, the mechanism of action may include estradiol receptor expression on the muscle fiber itself may play a role in the protective effects of estradiol rather than or in addition to expression on neutrophils. We have shown here that gender differences occur in CK activity as a marker of muscle damage in response to strenuous eccentric exercise, but may not be the result of estradiol concentration or estradiol receptor expression on granulocytes.

Other variables should be examined in order to determine the mechanism involved in the difference in creatine kinase as a marker of muscle damage between men and women after heavy resistance exercise.