Coordination Between Nitric Oxide and Superoxide Anion Radical During Progressive Exercise in Elite Soccer Players

Dusica Djordjevic1, Vladimir Jakovljevic*, 1, Dejan Cubrilo1, Miroljub Zlatkovic2, Vladimir Zivkovic1, Dragan Djuric3
1 Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Kragujevac, Kragujevac, Republic of Serbia
2 National Institute of Sports, Belgrade
3 Institute of Medical Physiology “Richard Burian”, School of Medicine, University of Belgrade

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© Djordjevic et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

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* Address correspondence to this author at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Kragujevac, Svetozara Markovica 69, P.P. 124, 34000 Kragujevac, Republic of Serbia; Tel: +381 34 342 944; Fax: +381 34 306 800/ext 112; E-mail:



Exercise increases production of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (RONS) via several mechanisms. Inter alia, increased blood flow during exercise exposes endothelial cells to shear stress, resulting in increased nitric oxide (NO) production. Increased oxygen consumption or hypoxia during exercise induces increased production of superoxide anion radical (O2-).


This study investigates the effects of maximal progressive treadmill exercise test on time-course of peripheral blood NO and O2- production, as well as the effect of long-term training on NO bioavailability.


Blood samples of 19 elite soccer players were gathered immediately before the test, during last 10 sec of every test stage, and during active recovery phases.


Significant increase (p<0.05) in NO production (estimated through nitrites (NO2-)), found between stage I (5.69 ± 1.32 nmol/ml) and basal values (5.36 ± 1.25 nmol/ml), was followed by the decrease in stage II (4.21 ± 0.42 nmol/ml) and production lower than basal to the end of the test. Significant increase (p<0.05) in O2- values was found between stage I (4.18 ± 0.77 nmol/ml) and resting values (4.01 ± 0.69 nmol/ml), and at stages V (4.24 ± 0.85 nmol/ml) and 1st phase of recovery (4.39 ± 0.92 nmol/ml).


The regression lines of NO2- and O2- crossed at the level of anaerobic threshold, suggesting that anaerobic threshold could be of a crucial importance not only in the anaerobic and aerobic metabolism but in mechanisms of signal transductions as well. Long-term exercise increases NO bioavailability, and there is positive correlation between NO bioavailability and maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max).

Keywords:: Exercise, Oxidative stress, Nitric oxide, Superoxide anion radical, Maximal oxygen uptake.