No reliable biomarkers exist to identify athletes in various training states including functional overreaching (FOR), non-functional overreaching (NFOR), and overtraining syndrome (OTS). Participants (N = 10, age 38.3 ± 3.4 years) served as their own controls and in random, counterbalanced order either ran/cycled 2.5 h (70.0 ± 3.7% VO2max
) three days in a row (FOR) or sat in the lab (rest) (separated by three weeks; 7:00–9:30 am, overnight fasted state). Participants provided fingerprick samples for dried blood spot samples (DBS) pre- and post-exercise/rest, and then during two recovery days. DBS proteins were measured with nanoLC-MS in data-independent acquisition (DIA) mode, and 593 proteins were identified and quantified. Proteins were considered for the FOR cluster if they were elevated during one of the two recovery days but not more than one of the exercise days (compared to rest). The generalized estimating equation (GEE) was used to identify proteins linked to FOR. A total of 13 proteins was linked to FOR and most were associated with the acute phase response and innate immune system activation. This study used a system-wide proteomics approach to define a targeted panel of blood proteins related to FOR that could form the basis of future NFOR- and OTS-based studies.
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