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Journal of Medical Biochemistry

The Journal of Society of Medical Biochemists of Serbia

4 Issues per year

IMPACT FACTOR 2016: 1.148

CiteScore 2016: 0.84

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2016: 0.279
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2016: 0.488

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Volume 35, Issue 4


ACTH, Cortisol and IL-6 Levels in Athletes Following Magnesium Supplementation

Gordana Dmitrašinović
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of Medical Biochemistry, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Vesna Pešić / Dušanka Stanić / Bosiljka Plećaš-Solarović / Marijana Dajak / Svetlana Ignjatović
  • Department of Medical Biochemistry, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia
  • Center for Medical Biochemistry, Clinical Center of Serbia, Belgrade, Serbia
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2016-11-02 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jomb-2016-0021


Background: Physical exercise activates the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and induces the body’s inflammatory response. Due to contemporary dietary habits and increased energy expenditure, athletes are susceptible to depletion of magnesium ions. The aim of our study was to investigate, through assessment of plasma ACTH, serum IL-6, and salivary/serum cortisol levels, if chronic magnesium supplementation might reduce damaging stress effects in amateur rugby players.

Methods: Rugby players (N=23) were randomly assigned to intervention and control group. Basal samples were collected before intervention group started a 4-week-long supplementation with magnesium (500 mg Mg/d). Blood and saliva sampling were done a day before the match (Day-1), on the morning of competition (Game), and during a six-day-long recovery period (Day1, Day3 and Day6). ACTH, serum/salivary cortisol, IL-6 and total/differential leukocytes counts were determined at each time point.

Results: There was a statistically significant increase in ACTH concentration in intervention group compared to control group, while reductions in cortisol concentrations between the two groups were the greatest at Day-1 (p<0.01) and at the day of competition (Game) (p<0.01). Our results revealed that magnesium completely abolished the increase in IL-6 level noted in control group on Day1 and Day3 vs. Day-1 (p<0.01) and also diminished the rise in neutrophil/lymphocyte ratio in intervention group vs. control group (p<0.01).

Conclusions: These results suggest the possibly important influence magnesium supplementation might have on the change of parameters of HPA axis activity and reduction of immune response activation following strenuous physical exercise such as a rugby game.

Keywords: ACTH; amateur rugby; IL-6; magnesium supplementation; serum/saliva cortisol

List of abbreviations:


adrenocorticotropic hormone;


analysis of variance;


cortisol binding globulin;


chemiluminescent immunoassay;


electrochemiluminescence method;


serum cortisol;


salivary cortisol;

Csal/Cser index,

salivary cortisol/serum cortisol index;


day before the competition;


first day after the game;


third day after the game;


sixth day after the game;


the day of competition;




interleukin 6;




percentage of lymphocytes;


percentage of neutrophils;


white blood cells.


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About the article

Received: 2016-04-26

Accepted: 2016-05-13

Published Online: 2016-11-02

Published in Print: 2016-10-01

Citation Information: Journal of Medical Biochemistry, Volume 35, Issue 4, Pages 375–384, ISSN (Online) 1452-8266, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jomb-2016-0021.

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© 2016 Gordana Dmitrašinović et al., published by De Gruyter Open. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0

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