Submaximal exercise training, more than dietary selenium supplementation, improves antioxidant status and ameliorates exercise-induced oxidative damage to skeletal muscle in young equine athletes.


Exercise is associated with increased production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) as metabolism is upregulated to fuel muscle activity. If antioxidant systems become overwhelmed, ROS can negatively affect health and performance. Adaptation to exercise through regular training has been shown to improve defense against oxidative insult. Given selenium's role as an antioxidant, we hypothesized that increased Se intake would further enhance skeletal muscle adaptations to training. Quarter Horse yearlings (18 ± 0.2 mo; 402 ± 10 kg) were randomly assigned to receive either 0.1 or 0.3 mg Se/kg DM and placed in either an untrained or a trained (30 min walk-trot-canter, 4 d/wk) group for 14 wk. Phase 1 (wk 1 to 8) consisted of 4 treatments: trained and fed 0.1 mg Se/kg DM through wk 14 (CON-TR; n = 10), trained and fed 0.3 mg Se/kg DM through wk 14 (HIGH-TR; n = 10), untrained and fed 0.1 mg Se/kg DM through wk 14 (CON-UN; n = 5), or untrained and fed 0.3 mg Se/kg DM through wk 14 (HIGH-UN; n = 5). During Phase 2 (wk 9 to 14), dietary Se level in half of the trained horses was reversed, resulting in 6 treatments: CON-TR (n = 5), trained and fed 0.1 mg/kg Se in Phase 1 and then switched to 0.3 mg/kg Se for Phase 2 (ADD-TR; n = 5), trained and fed 0.3 mg/kg Se in Phase 1 and then switched to 0.1 mg/kg Se for Phase 2 (DROP-TR; n = 5), HIGH-TR (n = 5), CON-UN (n = 5), or HIGH-UN (n = 5). All horses underwent a 120-min submaximal exercise test (SET) at the end of Phase 1 (SET 1) and 2 (SET 2). Blood samples and biopsies from the middle gluteal muscle were collected before and after each phase of the study and in response to each SET and analyzed for markers of oxidative damage and antioxidant enzyme activity. In both phases, serum Se was higher (P < 0.0001) when horses received a diet with 0.3 than 0.1 mg Se/kg DM. Throughout the 14-wk study, resting activities of muscle glutathione peroxidase (GPx; P = 0.004) and superoxide dismutase (SOD; P = 0.06) were greater in trained horses than in untrained horses. In response to SET 1, serum creatine kinase (CK) activity was lower in trained horses than in untrained horses (P < 0.0001), indicating less muscle damage, but plasma lipid hydroperoxides (LPO) and muscle GPx and SOD activities were unaffected by training or Se. In response to SET 2, trained horses had greater muscle SOD activity (P = 0.0002) and lower serum CK activity (P = 0.003) and showed a trend for lower plasma LPO (P = 0.09) and muscle malondialdehyde (P = 0.09) than untrained horses. Muscle GPx activity did not change in response to SET 2 and was unaffected by training or Se. Results indicate that exercise training lessens muscle damage and improves antioxidant defense following an acute bout of prolonged exercise and was not further enhanced by feeding Se above the NRC requirement.


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