Acute effects of intense exercise on the antioxidant system in birds: Does exercise training help?

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The acute effects of an energy-intensive activity such as exercise may alter an animal's redox homeostasis, although these short-term effects may be ameliorated by chronic exposure to that activity, or training, over time. Although well documented in mammals, how energy-intensive training affects the antioxidant system and damage by reactive species has not been investigated fully in flight-trained birds. We examined changes to redox homeostasis in zebra finches exposed to energy-intensive activity (60 min of perch-to-perch flights twice a day), and how exercise training over many weeks affected this response. We measured multiple components of the antioxidant system: an enzymatic antioxidant (glutathione peroxidase, GPx) and non-enzymatic antioxidants (measured by the OXY-adsorbent test) as well as a measure of oxidative damage (d-ROMs). At no point during the experiment did oxidative damage change. We discovered that exposure to energy-intensive exercise training did not alter baseline levels of GPx, but induced exercise-trained birds to maintain a higher non-enzymatic antioxidant status as compared with untrained birds. GPx activity was elevated above baseline in trained birds immediately after completion of the second 1 h flight on each of the three sampling days, and non-enzymatic antioxidants were acutely depleted during flight after 13 and 44 days of training. The primary effect of exercise training on the acute response of the antioxidant system to 2 h flights was increased coordination between the enzymatic (GPx) and non-enzymatic components of the antioxidant system of birds that reduced oxidative damage associated with exercise.

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Journal of Experimental Biology