Can Biomarker Monitoring Augment Positive Adaptation & Reduce Injuries from Stressors incurred during Football?

Research Paper Title

Monitoring Blood Biomarkers and Training Load Throughout a Collegiate Soccer Season.


This observational study aimed to characterise the responses of a comprehensive panel of biomarkers, observed ranges, training load (TL) metrics, and performance throughout the collegiate soccer (aka football) season (August-November).


Biomarkers (n = 92) were collected before the start of pre-season (PS), in-season weeks (W)1, W4, W8, and W12 in NCAA Division I male soccer players (n = 20, mean ± SD; age = 21 ± 1 years, height = 180 ± 6 cm, body mass = 78.19 ± 6.3 kg, body fat = 12.0 ± 2.6%, V[Combining Dot Above]O2max 51.5 ± 5.1 ml·kg·min). Fitness tests were measured at PS, and W12 and TL was monitored daily. Changes in biomarkers and performance were calculated via separate repeated-measures analysis of variance.


Despite similar fitness (p > 0.05), endocrine, muscle, inflammatory, and immune markers changed over time (p < 0.05). Total and free testosterone was lower in W1 vs. PS, whereas free cortisol remained unchanged at PS, W1, and W4 (>0.94 mg·dL). Oxygen transport and iron metabolism markers remained unchanged except for HCT (W1 vs. PS) and total iron binding capacity (W8-W12 vs. W1). Hepatic markers albumin, globulin, albumin:globulin, and total protein levels were elevated (p < 0.05) at W12 vs. W1, whereas aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase levels were elevated at W1-W12 and W8-W12 vs. PS, respectively. Vitamin E, zinc, selenium, and calcium levels were elevated (p < 0.05) at W12 vs. W1, whereas Vitamin D was decreased (p < 0.05). Fatty acids and cardiovascular markers (omega-3 index, cholesterol:high-density lipoprotein [HDL], docosahexenoic acid, low-density lipoprotein [LDL], direct LDL, non-HDL, ApoB) were reduced at W1 vs. PS (p ≤ 0.05).


Immune, lipid, and muscle damage biomarkers were frequently outside clinical reference ranges. Routine biomarker monitoring revealed sub-clinical and clinical changes, suggesting soccer-specific reference ranges. Biomarker monitoring may augment positive adaptation and reduce injuries from stressors incurred during soccer.


Huggins, R.A., Fortunati, A.R., Curtis, R.M., Looney, D.P., West, C.A., Lee, E.C., Fragala, M.S., Hall, M.L. & Casa, D.J. (2018) Monitoring Blood Biomarkers and Training Load Throughout a Collegiate Soccer Season.


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